ST. GEORGES CHURCH
KINGSTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Being the Transactions of the Kingston Historical Society for 1955-56
Edited by George F. G. Stanley
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Macaulay Family of Kingston, by Mrs. William Angus. 3
(Delivered Oct. 20, 1955)
The Civil Service when Kingston zvas the Capital of Canada, by 13
Professor J. E. Hodgetts.
(Delivered Nov. 23, 1955)
Early Schools in Kingston, by F. P. Smith, Esq. 25
(Delivered Feb. 22, 1956)
A Clash in St. Paul's Churchyard by Professor R. A. Preston. 30
(Delivered March 21, 1956)
(1) Kingston Mechanics' Institute, 1834. 45
(2) The Kingston Historical Society, 1893. 46
(3) John Banner in Kingston, 1853-7. 48
The Macaulay Family of Kingston
- BY -
The Macaulay Family of Kingston is usually identified by its most
prominent member, the Honourable John Macaulay, who was born in
Kingston, October 17, 1792 and died in Kingston, August 10, 1857. His
obituary listed him as : "Member of Legislative Council of Canada, for-
merly Inspector General of Upper Canada, etc., etc., and one of the oldest
residents of Kingston". The Macaulay house is at 203 King Street East,
between Earl and Gore, in the middle of the block. There is an iron arrow-
head fence with huge stone gateposts along the front walk and the main
entrance is at the north side of the house — now an apartment house.
The Macaulay family was one of the principal families of early King-
ston, a United Empire Loyalist family, a merchant family with extensive
land holdings, a family who made important contributions to the religious
and political life of Canada. The story of any family, and certainly of this
family, is also the story of the times in which they lived and of the people
who made those times. The story of the Macaulays involves a network of
family relationships which includes many prominent Kingston families and
many outside of Kingston. The Kingston names familiar to many are :
the Herchmers, the Marklands, the Kirbys, the Andersons, the Macpher-
sons, Glasgows, Geddes and Kirkpatricks.
The' Macaulay family story is not just family tradition. This story
comes from the family prayer book where births, marriages and deaths
were entered, plus. a record of vaccinations and contagious diseases. It
comes also from gravestones, from parish registers, lists of the U.E.L.,
Loyalist Claims, Haldimand Papers, Court records, newspapers and, most
important of all from the Macaulay papers in the Ontario Archives.
The Macaulays were originally from Scotland but went to Ireland
during the disturbances in Scotland. Robert Macaulay, the founder of the
Kingston branch, was of the second generation born in Ireland. He was
born in 1744 at Omagh, Ireland, and came to America in 1764 when he
was twenty. A few years later two of his brothers joined him and a
widowed sister came out some years later.
By 1774 Robert Macaulay was at Willsbrough, on the west shore
of Lake Champlain, engaged in the lumber trade. The account of his losses,
given in his claim for compensation for losses in the American Revolution,
states that he had a house 40 x 20 feet, a barn 30 x 20, two pairs oxen, four
cows, three heifers, two calves, hay, wheat, peas, potatoes and corn, plus
his lumbering business which included eight thousand staves. That was
really quite an establishment.
When General Arnold's army retreated from Canada to Lake Cham-
plain, Robert Macaulay was taken prisoner, presumably in the late sum-
The Macaulay Family of Kingston
mer of 1776. Me was held for some time at Crown Point, on the western
side of the lake ; he was later released and returned to his home. After that
he gave information to the British regarding the garrison at Ticonderoga
and was discovered, captured and taken as a prisoner to the Albany gaol.
After six months he was released on hail and escaped to Canada. This
probably was some time in 1778. Two years later, in 1780, he was estab-
lished as a trader on Carleton Island, then an important military base.
The Haldimand Papers list "sundry goods in possession of Robert
Macauley (sic), Crleton Island, 20th April 1780:
300 Gallons of Rum
4 Quarter Casks port wine
2 Bales Blankets
1 Ditto Strouds
1 Trunk Irish linen
1 Ball course Cloth FOR
2 Cwt. Tea INDIAN
1 Bale Sundry Articles TRADE
1 Cask Small Shott assorted
1 Ditto Ball
2 Barrels gunpowder
1 Case containing 6 guns
Robert Macaulay was also a Captain of the Associated Loyalists on
Carleton Island according to Land Book records and the United Empire
Loyalist list. As such he was granted 1200 acres of land.
There is some reason to believe that after peace came he went back-
to see what he could recover of his property, possibly in 1786 or 1787. It
is family tradition that Robert Macaulay met Ann Kirby when he was
over forty and she was sixteen; that would have been in 1786. But more
of that later.
Sometime after Robert Macaulay moved to Kingston — or Cataraqui,
as it was called - - in the 1780's he formed a partnership with Thomas
Markland to carry on a forwarding business. They had a storehouse and
wharf at the foot of what is now Princess Street and thev owned various
/ lands in common. Tn April 1788, according to a document in the Macaulay
I Papers in the Ontario Archives, Macaulay and Markland contracted with
Archibald Thomson to build a house for Sir John fohnson. It was to be
finished before the last day of October and the specifications are carefully
listed. The firm of Markland and Macaulay were also the collecting agents
or subscriptions to build a church, St. Georges. The firm was dissolved
in 1791 or 1792.
A case about Markland and Macaulay came up in the Court of Com-
mon Pleas of this district in 1790. This was the court for the recovery of
The Macaulay Family of Kingston
debts of over 10 pounds. Macaulay and Markland were suing James
Connor for the recovery of £43.18. Connor said the charges were wrong
and anyway Robert Macaulay owed him £50 for medical attendance.
Markland replied the firm was not responsible for personal debts; how-
ever, Robert Macaulay had a private account against Connor for a case
of medicine. The court asked time to deliberate the merits of the case and
ordered the parties to appear at the next sitting, four months later.
At that time the firm said they had decided to include the accounts
for and against Robert Macaulay in the case. The Court admitted the
account and the case proceeded a few days later. Whereupon Markland
produced Robert Macaulay's account against the defendent James Connor,
for a box of medicine, charged £60. Connor said the medicine was not
worth 60 shillings and that no specific price was agreed on by the parties
when the said chest of medicine was delivered, which was not denied by
Macaulay. Then Connor produced his account against Macaulay for med-
icines and attendance in curing a broken leg, amounting to £50.
Macaulay objected and said the charge was exhorbitant for the medi-
cines and attendance Connor had given him. Various witnesses were called
to uDhold the reasonableness of the ^charge. Joseph Forsyth had heard
in Montreal of a man paying £50 for curing a broken leg. The Court re-
quested the opinion of two professional men and called James Latham and
James Gill, surgeons. Latham said he would have charged Macaulay £30.
Gill said he had treated only soldiers so had no precedent but he would
have charged £10 for each fracture, not including medicine. The Court
awarded the plaintiff £13 6s 6d and the defendant had to pay the costs.
That was in 1790.
Early in 1791 Robert Macaulay rode back to Crown Point, New
York. There on February 13th he married Ann Kirby in her father's house.
Ann, the eldest daughter of John and Ann Kirby was born in Knares-
borough, Yorkshire and came to America with her parents. She rode to
Canada on a pillion behind her new husband, over the ice to Kingston.
On August 17, 1783 Major Ross wrote to Haldimand that the three
houses then being transported from Carleton Island to Kingston were "all
that were worth removing from outside the fort". We may presume that
one of those houses was the house Robert Macaulay rafted to Kingston
and set up on one of his lots. The old house, altered and still in fair con-
dition stood at the south west corner of Princess and Ontario Streets until
it was torn down in 1928 to make way for a gas station. In that house three
Macaulay children were born, John, William, and Robert junior. Robert
Macaulay senior died there September first 1800, leaving his wife, Ann,
then thirty, and three sons : John, eight ; William, six ; and Robert, four.
The executors of his will were Ann Macaulay, Richard Cartwright and
John Kirby, junior. Ann and her brother, John Kirby, carried on Robert's
John Kirby, junior, had been in Kingston since before 1789. His name
appears on a list of persons settling at Kingston between 1784 and 1789.
The Macaulay Family of Kingston
He may have come to Kingston with Robert Macaulay after 1786. The
kirby "family was closely linked with the Macaulay family; for besides
Robert Macaulav's marriage to Ann Kirby there was a second union of
the families. Robert Macaulay's young sister Mary, whose husband a Mr.
Xixon had died in London, came to Montreal with her son. George Nixon.
He was sent to his uncles in New York and Mary Macaulay Nixon came
to Kingston. She became |ohn Kirby's wife and doubly sister-in-law of
Ann Kirby Macaulay. From family letters it would seem that Mary Kirby,
who died of cholera in 1832 aged 14 vears, was the daughter of John Kirby
and Mary Macaulay Nixon Kirby. Mrs. Kirby evidently died when her
daughter was very young for John Kirby married in 1822 Cecelia Bethune,
widow of W. B. Wilkinson.
Two other members of the Kirby family came to Kingston probably
to stay with Ann Kirby Macaulay. Elizabeth Kirby, nine years younger
than Ann, was in Kingston in the 1790's and about 1799 was married to
Lawrence Herchmer, merchant, of Kingston. That link with the Herchmer
family gave the Macaulay boys seven first cousins and a host of other
connections. Then there was Maria Kirby. thirteen years younger than
Ann Macaulay, who came to Kingston to be with her widowed sister. She
never married and died in Kingston in 1837, age 54.
There is no doubt that, although Ann Macaulay was guided by her
brother John Kirby, she kept a definite voice in the business and in the
raising of her sons. The Macaulay letters in the Archives leave no doubt
John and William Macaulay went to school to a young man who had
been brought from England in 1799 to teach the sons of the Honourable
Richard Cartwright. That man was John Strachan, later Bishop of Toronto.
When Strachan was ordained and opened an academy in Cornwall the
Macaulay boys went there to school, as did many other boys who later be-
came prominent men in Canada.
When John Macaulav was about sixteen he was sent to Montreal to
study under Peter McGill. McGill, advising John to learn French, sent
him to Terrebonne to study with the Reverend Mr. Varin. A few years
later, 1809, John was back in Kingston where arrangements had been made
for him to be articled to Mr. Allan McLean, Lawyer. That was an impor-
tant step in John Macaulay's career, for Allan McLean, said to be the first
lawyer in Kingston, was a man already engaged in an active political life.
He was a member of the Legislative Assembly and became Speaker of
the House of Assembly. We may suppose that Allan McLean started the
young Macaulay on his long career of government service.
Meanwhile John Macaulay was becoming a young man of some im-
portance in Kingston. He was postmaster of Kingston. He became agent
for the Bank of Upper Canada. As a Justice of the Peace he took the de-
positions in the famous burying ground dispute which upset Kingston in
The Macaulay Family of Kingston
the middle 1820's. He became a trustee of the Midland District Grammar
School and served a term as Chairman of the Court of Quarter Sessions.
For seven years John Macaulay owned and, part of that time, edited
the Kingston Chronicle. A life-long friend of his said he operated the news-
paper at the instance of Sir Peregrine Maitland." The Kingston Chronicle,
outspoken as papers were in those days, was accused of libel by the Legis-
lative Assembly in 1822. The Chronicle's report and comments on a dis-
cussion in the House of Assembly regarding Bidwell's ouster as member
for Lennox and Addington was called "a false, scandalous and malicious
libel". The charge was dropped a few days later after the author of the
article had acknowledged "the impropriety of conduct". From a letter in
the Macaulay papers it would seem that the author in question was Thomas
Dalton, then presumably editing the Chronicle for John Macaulay or
writing for the Chronicle.
In 1822 John Macaulay was appointed a Commissioner of Inland Navi-
gation to look into canal routes. It is said his report was of service to
Colonel By in planning the Rideau Canal. Macaulay served also as secre-
tary to the Board of Arbitrators for the division of revenue between Upper
and Lower Canada. He also served on a commission which made a tour of
penitentiaries in the United States to report on their penal system.
In 1828 John Macaulay was appointed Deputy Postmaster and two
years later became cashier of the Bank of Upper Canada.
What of the rest of the Macaulay family during these years ? William
Macaulay had gone to The Queen's College, Oxford, and was ordained
there but received no degree. In 1819 he was in Hamilton township ; a year
later he was teaching school in the Newcastle district for £100 a year. It
may have been this experience that prompted him to write some years later
that he was not interested in a professorship "as it leads to nothing".
An extract from the Macaulay letters gives an interesting character-
ization of the Reverend William Macaulay. John wrote, "He has some
great project on hand which he will, of course, as usual, abandon when
found impracticable". In 1823 he became the rector at Picton and served
there for forty seven years, covering a territory that extended at one time
north to Peterborough. He married twice ; first, Ann Catherine Geddes
and second, Charlotte, whose daughter Ann Macaulay married James S.
Kirkpatrick. His parishioners remembered him with deep affection.
Of the younger brother, Robert junior, very little appears in the family
papers. He became a barrister. The Reverend William wrote to his mother
in 1819, "I regret that Robert's conduct is such an affliction for the family".
Robert's death is recorded in the prayer book, "Died at Kingston on Fri-
day, 7th February 1823".
Meanwhile Mrs. Ann Kirby Macaulay kept house for her son John
in the old home at the corner of Princess and Ontario Streets. In 1833
there was a change in this household, but the story really begins a number
The Macaulay Family of Kingston
of years before that. Four young men, David and John Macpherson, John
Hamilton and John Macaulay, were talking about girls, as young men
often do. The Macpherson brothers were talking about their sisters back
in Scotland, especially Eliza. As a result of that conversation David Mac-
pherson wrote to Eliza that there was a number of young men in the colony
who could be considered gentlemen, who would be glad of a respectable
Scottish wife. He suggested that Eliza might come to Canada to visit her
brothers and meet the young men. Eliza by this time was married to James
Mackenzie in Scotland but her sister Frances came out by the first packet
in the spring and was married to ]ohn Hamilton at Queenston in April
That marriage was so successful that John Macaulay suggested another
sister might come to Canada. The engagement was evidently arranged by
correspondence, and letters travelled slowly in those days. In September
1833 John Macaulay was being congratulated on his engagement. In Oc-
tober 1833 John Macaulay met Helen Macpherson as she stepped off the
boat in Montreal and they were married at 8 a.m. The ceremony seems to
have been repeated before the Reverend William Macaulay at Picton later
Early the next spring John's mother, an independent woman, decided
she should have a house of her own. John's letters to his mother, visiting
her son in Picton, and to his wife, visiting her brother in Montreal, go
into great detail about the plans. They discussed whether Mrs. Ann Mac-
aulay should build next to the old house on Ontario Street (which John
and Helen were enlarging) or next to the Archdeacon Stuart cottage on
Church Street (now King). There was already a house on the the latter
place, an old wooden house built before 1800 and rented to a Mrs. Sterling
who kept boarders. It, however, was on the Earl Street side near Ontario
Street. In May 1834, a stone cottage, with the main entrance at the side
was being built near the Archdeacon's cottage. It was called Knaresborough
Cottage, after Ann Macaulay's birthplace. That cottage is the basis of the
present house at 203 King East.
In October 1834 Ann Elizabeth Mary was born to Helen and John
Macaulay. The next twelve years were filled with family joys and with
deep sorrow, with mounting family fortunes and with recognition of John
Macaulay's increasing prominence' in the political life of Canada.
John Macaulay became a Legislative Councillor of Upper Canada.
He was appointed Surveyor General and wrote his mother that his office
reminded him of the post office for as many people came to inquire about
a " d . as used to com e to the. post office about letters. This appointment in
! 836 meant that John had to move to Toronto.
His mother went back to the old house, at Princess and Ontario, and
trom there wrote to her son, "You thought vou had made this house a great
cleal warmer by all the alterations you have made but I find it verv cold,
the pitcher of water has froze (sic) on the wash stand everv dav and
The Macaulay Family of Kingston
night for some weeks past and in windy weather would blow out a candle
in the dressing room. I think by cutting the roof to make those closets has
made it much colder by letting in so much wind ; we keep the fires going
constantly". The next year little Annie Macaulay was in Kingston with
her grandmother who wrote: "Annie is full of tricks . . . hiding my spec-
tacles and spilling my snuff and then hiding my punch box, as she calls
it, under the carpets".
John Macaulay, still concerned with family housing matters, wrote to
his mother : "Do not make any but a conditional lease of the stone cottage
to Mr. Forsyth or Mr. Watkins. The place as it stands and without any of
the lot occupied by Mrs. Sterling should bring at least £65, the rent a
poor return for the expenditure of £1300. If I return I see no reason why
one household should not answer for all. I never felt satisfied at your
living by yourself". In April 1837, Mrs. Ann Macaulay leased her stone
cottage for five years to John Richardson Forsyth, at £50 for the first
three years and £55 for the last two.
The next year John wrote his mother that she should have a fireplace
put in her bedroom while they were fixing the drawing room chimney. He
also had heard of the spent musket ball that came through her drawing
room at the end window.
John Macaulay was Surveyor General during the rebellion troubles.
A quotation from his obituary : "When the disturbances broke out in 1837
he was among the first at Government House, having been early fore-
warned and the last to lay down his arms after proceeding to meet the
insurgents and assist in scattering them". In 1838 John Macaulay became
civil and private seretary to Lieutenant Governor Sir George Arthur. The
formal notification of his appointment was so long in coming from London
that he asked the advice of his mother and of his uncle, John Kirby ; won-
dering if he should retain his position as cashier of the Bank of Upper
Canada and leave the government service, "gilded slavery" as he called
it. His appointment came through in time to settle his mind in favour of
staying in the government. While he was in that office, he issued a very
comprehensive report on the duties and responsibilities of the civil and
private secretary. That report was the basis for a readjustment of the
duties of the office under Union.
In 1838 John Macaulay was appointed Inspector General of Public
Accounts. In that capacity he returned to Kingston in May 1841, when all
public offices were ordered to Kingston, the first capital of United Canada.
In the process of adjustment to union the Governor General, Lord Syden-
ham, proposed that the Inspector General should have a seat in the Legis-
lative Assembly — stand for election and be prepared to speak for his office.
John Macaulay, staunch Tory that he was, said he could not make speeches
and do the job properly; so he resigned in 1842. He had expected, in view
qi his service, that he would be offered another post or be retired on a
pension, as others had been. His applications met blank walls and his
friends deplored the treatment given him.
H) The Macaulay Family of Kingston
In 1842 he presented his case to Sir Charles Bagot, then Governor
General. Macaulay wrote a full memorandum of the meeting when he re-
turned from Alwington House August 26th. It is preserved in the Mac-
aulay papers in the Archives. Here are some extracts from the memoran-
dum: "I called at Government House at eleven and waited in the room
of Captain [ones for some time until Mr. Secretary Harrison had tran-
sacted business with his Excellency. On entering the room occupied by Sir
Charles, His Excellency shook hands with me and motioning me to a seat
said I was just the person he wished to see." John Macaulay was pleased
at the cordial greeting and. for a time, quite hopeful. In the course of the
conversation Sir Charles offered Macaulay the post of Sheriff of the Mid-
land District. That would have been a decided demotion and John Macaulay
declined it saying that in lieu of a higher post he hoped he might be given
some compensation. The memorandum continues : "What do you mean
by compensation?" asked His Excellency, "You mean the pension fund?"
"I do, sir", I replied. "Oh, now I understand what you want. I shall make
a memorandum," said His Excellency." The interview ended there and an
answer came to John Macaulay four months later. Since he had refused the
offer of the Shrievalty of the Midland District the Government was in no
way obligated to grant him a pension.
John Macaulay continued his duties as a member of the Eegislative
Council. He took some pride in delaying a family journey while he stayed
in Kingston to make certain there would be a quorum in the Council. Eater,
in 1845, he was appointed Collector of Customs for the port of Kingston,
but resigned after about six months and confined himself to his law
What of his family during those busy years? In December 1838, a
second daughter, Naomi Helen Mcintosh Macaulay was born in Toronto.
In April 1840, triplet daughters were born to the Macaulays and died
within nine days. Meanwhile John Macaulay's letters to his mother in
Kingston were filled with the excitement and speculation about the site for
the new capital. John decided he would need a new house and proposed
buying a lot from Mrs. Murney on the waterfront beside a lot John Ham-
ilton had just purchased. When he couldn't get a lot there he wrote his
uncle, John Kirby, wondering if Molson might sell him a lot (where the
filtration plant now stands). And failing that he bought six acres north
of Union Street which he described as "the new street running in the rear
of the Archdeacon's Great Castle". He already owned seven acres at the
corner of Union and Barrie which he had bought from the Archdeacon.
It was some of this land that he gave in 1843 as a site for St. James'
Church. The rest he broke up into building lots calling it Arthur Place
in honour of Sir George Arthur.
The housing problem in Kingston was a critical one at the time of
Union. Mrs. Macaulay was still in the old house since John Forsyth
occupied Knaresborough Cottage until May 1842. And she was having
trouble with the drains, a recurring problem in Kingston history. She
The Macaulay Family of Kingston 11
wrote to John that they had taken up the sink to clean it, had the drain
open as far as the gate and found where it turned into the street. Then
she writes, "I was forhid taking up the pavement without the mayor's
permission. So I sent Robert (her handyman) to get Mr. Counter. . . .
I said I would not pay frontage, as they call it, . . . for my planking was
as sound as it was new laid a few years ago . . . mine was made to join
the main drain through the street. . . . We dug it and found it completely
When John Macaulay and his family returned to Kingston in May
1841 they were all with his mother in the old house. She had objected to
his plan of putting an addition to it so some of his furniture had to be
stored with friends. When Mr. Forsyth's lease was up on Knaresborough
Cottage a wing was added to it and the family moved in. Mrs. Ann Mac-
aulay stayed on at the old house. A son, John Kirby Macaulay, was born
in June 1842 and over a year later John and Helen Macaulay took their
small family to Scotland to visit the Macphersons.
Another daughter, Frances Jane Macaulay, was born in May 1845
and her birth was recorded in the family prayer book. One page in that
book gives us a note on family life: "December 1845, Annie had measles".
A later note says : "Helen, John and Fanny had measles at the same time
as Annie". The book also contains a record of vaccinations.
The next year was spent in a fruitless search for a climate or a cure
for the second daughter, Helen, age seven, who had recurring bouts of
fever. She died October 29th, 1846, in her eighth year. Six days later
Helen Macpherson Macaulay, beloved wife of the Honourable John Mac-
aulay, died of consumption. John's mother took over the care of Annie,
twelve ; Johnny, four ; and baby Fanny, one and a half. In December of
that year another blow fell. John Kirby, who had been like a father to
his nephew and who had been a beloved brother to Mrs. Ann Macaulay,
died. 1846 was a sad year for the Macaulay family.
In 1847 a special wing was added to Knaresborough Cottage as sep-
arate quarters for Mrs. Ann Macaulay. Mrs. Ann Kirby Macaulay died
in Kingston in 1850, age 80. Some time later Mrs. Eliza Macpherson
MacKenzie, John's sister-in-law, came to look after the Macaulay children.
She was there in 1852 when the Honourable John was called to England.
His eldest daughter, Annie, was at school there and very ill. He was
urged to come at once. Ann Elizabeth Mary Macaulay, age 17, died in
London in April of consumption and was brought home to be buried in
Kingston. The record in the prayer book includes: "Alas, my dear
In 1853 John Macaulay married Sarah Phillis Young, daughter of
Colonel Plomer Young. The only child of that marriage was Charlotte
Jane Macaulay, born September 21st, 1855, only ten days before the Hon-
12 The Macaulay Family of Kingston
ourable John Macaulay suffered a stroke. Two years later in the Chronicle
and News of August 14, 1857, appeared the following notice:
"DIED : On Monday, the 10th August, at his residence in Kingston,
after a long illness, and in the 65th year of his age, the Honorable
John Macaulay, member of the Legislative Council of Canada,
formerly Inspector General of Upper Canada, etc., etc., and one
of the oldest residents of Kingston."
A week later an obituary appeared telling of his long public service
and ending with : "He lived an excellent man and those wdio survive him
and knew him intimately know best how highly to appreciate him". The
initials G.H.M. appear at the end of the article, George Herchmer Mark-
land, a life-long friend of the Honourable John Macaulay.
Three children survived the Honourable John. Frances, Jane Macaulay
in 1865 married George Airey Kirkpatrick and had five children before
her death in 1877. John Kirby Macaulay married two years later Mary
Elizabeth Nixon of New York, a descendant of Robert Macaulay's sister,
Mary Macaulay Nixon. Three children were born to that marriage and
when their mother died in 1874, Mrs. Sarah Macaulay, the Honourable
John's widow, brought them to Knaresborough Cottage.
They used to go riding with their grandmother who took great pride
in her equipage. She had an Irish coachman and she kept two horses^
always black and always lively; when they quietened down she sold them
to the undertaker. The youngest of these three grandchildren of the Honor-
able John was Frances Hamilton Macaulay who married Charles Chris-
topher Abbott. Their daughter, Miss Charlotte Abbott has contributed
much to this paper.
The Macaulay family of Kingston were loyalists, pioneers, Canadians,
who served their Sovereign and their country with respect and devotion.
The Civil Service when Kingston was the
Capital of Canada
- BY -
/. E. Hodgetts
Canadian civil servants, a century ago, may not have been the most
efficient in the world but they were certainly the most well-travelled. The
seat of government was moved so frequently that officials were unable
to get into those deep ruts of routine and lethargy which are alleged to
be one of the hall-marks of bureaucracy. Indeed, with that perversity now
generally ascribed to bureaucrats, they reversed the usual adjuration "go
west young man" and ambitiously pursued their headquarters eastward
from Toronto to Kingston to Montreal. Then for a period they could
count on quadrennial, all-expense tours of the St. Lawrence, as the capital
rotated between Quebec and Toronto. Not until 1865 were they brought
to roost in that backwoods community up the Ottawa River once unkindly
referred to as "the back door to Labrador".
I do not intend to chase our early civil servants back and forth across
the United Provinces, but rather, I hope to give you a snap shot of them
during the short period when their perambulations came to a temporary
halt in Kingston. I suspect my picture will look like a faded daguerrotype
of the Kingston Snow Show Club, circa 1865. How could real human
beings live behind those frightening beards? Could those rigid legs, one
foot self-consciously pointed before the other, ever have carried their
owners across the snow ? Could these refugees from a fancy dress ball ever
have been real persons? I fear, as I say, that my picture will convey the
same stilted, unrealistic atmosphere. And yet, I could wish it were possible
to do better for our early civil servants, for many were interesting people,
engaged upon interesting tasks.
My tale begins with excited communiques carried by the press of the
three rivals competing for the honour of becoming the capital of the new
united province of Canada. The political marriage of Upper and Lower
Canada was proclaimed with consumate delicacy on the first anniversary
of Queen Victoria's marriage, February 10, 1841. Beginning in August
of the previous year the rumours thickened. The Toronto Examiner, Aug-
ust 12th, 1840, reported that informal plans for accommodating the gov-
ernment in Montreal had already been drawn up but as yet had received
no official blessing. A few days later the Kingston Chronicle kept its pa-
tron's name in the lists by reporting on the authority of a letter from a
most respectable Montreal source that Kingston had, in fact, been chosen.
The Toronto press quickly scotched this rumour with a statement attrib-
uted to the Governor that Kingston was too near the frontier to be capable
of defense. The Kingston British Whig retorted in kind, accusing Toronto
officials of "making assess of themselves" in their efforts to ingratiate the
The Civil Service When Kingston Was The Capital of Canada
Governor Even if the rival Tories and radicals of Toronto had buried the
hatchet long enough to produce an effusive address to the Governor, it was
too late the Kingston paper claimed, for Toronto to prove its reliability.
Tin- next report came from Montreal to the effect that Toronto had most
certainly been selected and that Sir Allan McNab's old home had been
bought to serve as a vice-regal residence.
( her the Christmas vacation the rumours died out, only to be jolted
alive again by the abrupt official announcement in February that Kingston
had been selected. This rumour proved to be true, and Kingston's metro-
politan rivals proved to be poor losers. With a show of great indignation
Toronto remarked that the harbour of the new capital was still frozen solid
while the harbours of all other self-respecting cities were wide open. In
June the press of both rivals reported gleefully that the flags unfurled for
the gala display attending Sydenham's arrival in Kingston had to be bor-
rowed from them. There were also snide remarks about the housing. It
was rumoured, for example, that the Provincial Penetentiary was to be
fitted up for the members of parliament and officers of the House of
Assembly. "We have not heard", sniffed the Toronto press, "that the
criminals are to be removed. The Members might have worse quarters".
Mr. Yiger and three colleagues from French Canada complained of having
had to sleep all together in a hotel garret ; "confined like emigrants" thun-
dered the Montreal Courier. Fven the provisioning of the new capital was
cause for satire: "If a jury of bellies (we ask pardon for the word) were to
sit upon the Kingston landlords, they would find them guilty without
dissent, and sentence them, as an extreme punishment, to live upon
their own viands and drink their own wines for the next three months".
Kingston's limited larder was also the butt of crude comment by her larger
and presumably better-stocked rivals. While "there is no danger of famine
while we are permitted to chow so much Yankee food", hands are held up
in horror at the thought that Canadian legislators must depend on Amer-
These jealous rumblings, however, gradually faded away as the dis-
appointed rivals sat back confidently (and prophetically) to await the
inevitable transfer of the seat of government from that poor town so re-
cently apostrophised by Dickens as "one half burnt down and the other
half as yet not built up". Meanwhile, important things began to happen in
Kingston as Sydenham drove his baulky assembly at one of the heaviest
legislative programmes ever faced by a representative body. Perhaps it is
no matter for surprise, therefore, that the special correspondents reported
only the events which took place inside that cosy legislative Chamber in
what is now the Kingston General Hospital. Neither the reporters of those
days nor the historians of more recent date have paid any attention to the
civil service of the United Canadas. It is my contention that our early civil
servants in Kingston deserve better of us than silence. I also believe that
it was while Kingston was playing host to the civil service that the main
outlines of our modern administrative system took shape.
The Civil Service When Kingston Was The Capital of Canada 15
Perhaps our historians have been right in preserving a direct silence
about the labours of our early bureaucrats. After all, it may be asked,
what need would the sturdy, self-reliant pioneers have for the services
of the state 115 years ago? If we adopt the traditional view we should
reply: scarcely any need at all. But, let us consider the matter more
closely. In the 1850's, Alexander Gait, then Minister of Finance had
this to say :
Our Population, annually increased by Immigration, compels more extended
arrangements for the Administration of Justice, and the wants of Civil Government.
Our Infant Enterprises need to be fostered by the aid of Public Funds, and our great
productive resources nurtured and expanded by the Erection of Public Buildings, the
Construction of Light Houses on our Coasts, and the Improvement of our Harbours
and Navigable Waters.
And independently of these inevitable Expenditures which burthen the Public
Treasury of every young Country, we have from the same Fund to draw means for
the Construction of Roads, the promotion of Agriculture, the support of Hospitals
and other Charities, and the encouragement of Literary and Scientific Institutions,
all of which in more populous and wealthy countries are efficiently provided by private
enterprise and private benevolence.
In short. Gait, very much like Alexander Hamilton before him in the
United States, considered a pioneer community more dependent on basic
services provided by the state than a more mature, well-developed economy.
An agrarian, sparsely settled community required, amongst other
services, an efficient surveying department to map out the land ; a host
of local land agents to guide new settlers to the best lands and to record
property transactions. Indian agents were required to take care of the
native population recently enclosed on reserves. The depradations of
fishermen needed to be regulated by fisheries overseers, for already this
natural resource was showing signs of depletion. For the lucrative staple
industry, lumbering, there had to be agents to assign timber berths, collect
license fees and timber dues, and grade the many types of timber moving
down river to the export market. Shortly, with the discoveries of rich
copper resources around Lakes Huron and Superior, gold in the Chau-
diere and oil in the Gaspe, other agencies had to be created to superintend
their exploitation. Immigrants also had to be received and passed on up
the great waterway to the interior. In the field of transportation and com-
munication government services were no less vital to the inhabitants of
the Canadas. To-day, the welfare state with all its attendant beneficient
services tends to make us underrate or take for granted the provision of
such public utilities as roads, bridges, harbours and canals. Yet, for the
pioneers in isolated communities across Canada, a new road or bridge
was a matter of great moment upon which even elections might be won
or lost. Xor was the commercial empire of the St. Lawrence possible
without a vast network of canal engineers, lockmasters and seasonal la-
bourers all in the hire of the Public Works Department. The royal posts
also provided that vital contact with relations back home which made it a
blessing — albeit an expensive one — for the colonists. Needless to say,
amongst the services essential to the community, although never popular
16 The Civil Service When Kingston Was The Capital of Canada
with its members, were the tax gathering agencies such as Customs and
Excise. One could go on, but perhaps the point has been sufficiently la-
boured: clearly, the pre-Confederation public service filled as many per-
manent needs of the people as its twentieth century successor.
Primarily under Sydenham's direction, Kingston witnessed during the
1840's a reorganization of the provincial civil service which, with few
changes, gave us the departmental system with which we opened the new
era of confederation. The civil service that arrived in Kingston in 1841
was a hotch potch of autonomous agencies and branches. The numerous
functions of the state were not grouped into a coherent pattern of gov-
ernmental departments. There were no political heads responsible to the
legislature for policy. A permanent deputy minister, acting as the alter ego
of the minister and in command of a disciplined hierarchy of civil servants
had not, as yet, been envisaged. The cabinet still lacked the power and
party cohesion required to provide joint responsibility and a united top
command. As Sydenham's distinguished predecessor, Lord Durham, had
remarked : "From the highest to the lowest offices of the executive gov-
ernment no important department is so organized as to act vigorously and
completely throughout the Province and every duty which a government
owes to its subjects is imperfectly discharged".
In my opinion, Sydenham's true claim to fame lies in the successful
attack which he launched upon this set of strictly administrative problems.
He himself could do little to advance the cause of a responsible cabinet
system for he was personally too much the partisan protragonist to sit on
the side lines like our perfect model of the modern Governor General. Nor,
even if he had been temperamentally suited to the neutralist role, would
his chief, Lord John Russell, have permitted him to acknowledge the right
of the local executive to hold itself responsible to the local legislature.
Nevertheless, in the long run. Sydenham's administrative reforms made
possible the evolution of an effective, responsible cabinet system. He assem-
bled the scattered activities of government into a number of departments,
each containing related functions. Each department was provided with a
political head who was also given a place at the Council Table. In short,
he "rationalized" our civilian departments and brought the threads of
control into the hands of one man at the top. In turn, each ministerial
head reported to the Governor as the supreme commander of the public
service. In this last feature we find the significant departure from our
modern conception of cabinet government, for we now require the de-
partmental heads to prove they have the confidence of the popular assem-
bly, rather than that of the Governor.
Important constitutional issues were raised by these changes, but the
essential feature to be emphasized here is that Sydenham bequeathed the
departmental conception and so laid not only the foundation of our modern
bureaucracy but also made possoble the further development of the cabinet
system. Even after Confederation the departmental frame-work which he
The Civil Service When Kingston Was The Capital of Canada 17
had devised proved to be surprisingly adequate and comprehensive, as new-
duties were undertaken by the state.
It is in order now to consider in more detail the essential elements of
this departmental system. The departments can be divided into five
(1) Administrative Agencies. The departments under this heading
were concerned not so much with providing services for the public but
with facilitating the handling of government business. They included the
Office of the Governor's Secretary (often referred to as the Civil Secre-
tary's Office), the Executive Council Office and Provincial Secretary's
Office. To these we might also add the law offices — the Attorney General
and Solicitor General — although at this time they were not formally orga-
nized as departments and had no staff. While all the staff of these agencies
worked in Kingston they scarcely constituted a housing problem for at
best their combined numbers seldom exceeded thirty.
Perhaps the most important of these central departments was that
directed by the Civil Secretary who was virtually the permanent head of
the local civil service. Because of his prestige, this official was the fav-
ourite target of the reform element w T ho considered this alien import a
direct reflection on the capacity of the colonial officials to administer their
own affairs. Even with the decline in the powers of the Governor General
in Lord Elgin's time the Civil Secretary retained important administrative
responsibilities; not until 1860, for example, was he deprived of his posi-
tion as Superintendent of Indian Affairs in Canada. The Executive Council
Office handled the paper work of government, especially the applications
for land grants and the processing of land patents. Such was the labyrinth
of red tapes connected with the processing of these papers that many years
might go by before a land patent was finally approved. One of Lord
Sydenham's innovations was the creation of a political officer with the
impressive title of President of the Committees of Council, later shortened
to President of Council — an office now automatically assumed by the Prime
Minister. In the 1840's, however, it did not have this prestige and the
President of Council acted somewhat as a secretary or business manager
for the cabinet, particularly in the tedious sifting of the many applications
for land patents which has been mentioned.
The Provincial Secretary's Office in this period was something like
a modern Department of Municipal Affairs, generally supervising the
local government units that were just beginning to appear as a result
of Sydenham's prodding. It also became a repository for other headless
governmental agencies such as the Provincial Penitentiary, the asylums
and (unfortunate juxtaposition) the Education Offices.
(2) Financial Administration. The two key agencies in the second
category of departments were the offices of the Receiver General and
Inspector General. The two jobs today are amalgamated in the Minister
of Finance but in the 1840's Kingston had to make provision for two
18 IMF Civil Service When Kingston Was The Capital of Canada
separate offices. The Receiver General often had little to receive because
oi the unfortunate practice of permitting departments to extract their
administrative costs from the gross revenues before turning back the re-
mainder to the treasury. The Inspector General was, at this time, both an
embryonic Minister of Finance and Auditor General. The office was early
distinguished by the competent Francis Hincks and later transformed into
the modern Department of Finance by Alexander Gait. The audit was
badly handled until 1855 when Macdonald induced John Langton, a prac-
tical businessman from the wilds north of Peterborough, to become our
first .Auditor General. After Confederation, Langton also became Deputy
Minister of Finance and Secretary to the Treasury Board. Here he re-
mained until his retirement in 1878, an amazing one-man financial band.
The revenue collecting agencies in this second category of govern-
ment departments comprised the Post Office, Customs and Excise. The
Posl Office was under Imperial control at this time, the services it pro-
vided being so limited and costly that the colonists tended to view it pri-
marily as a tax -gathering rather than a servicing agency. Thomas Stayner,
the Deputy Postmaster General was probably the most unpopular Imperial
official in the colony and was regularly accused of milking the local com-
munity of several thousand pounds per annum which enriched the British
Treasury. Stayner refused to grace Kingston with his presence, preferring
to keep his headquarters at Quebec. Sydenham resented the independence
of the postal head but was unable to bring him under his personal super-
The Customs Service, like the Post Office, was also under strong
Imperial influence during the period when Kingston was capital. A large
portion of our customs duties, which made up the main source of tax
revenue in the colony, came from Imperial duties levied on imports and
exports at Quebec and Montreal. This part of the service was manned by
Imperial officials. But, at the same time, a strictly Canadian customs ser-
vice was being built up around the trade between Canada and the United
States. The high tariffs on tea, books and tobacco led, even at this early
date, to the development of smuggling activities which have, ever since
characterized the relations on either side of our famous undefended fron-
tier. Malcolm Cameron who investigated this phenomenon in 1842 esti-
mated that our "revenooers" were able to collect less than half the duty
to which the flow of trade entitled us. He noted that in the case of books
the theologians and lawyers seemed to be hardest hit. He presumed that
the claims of conscience made the theologians take their tax medicine
quietly, while the lawyers, he observed, "can make more in time out of
the people, than by evading the revenue law".
A supplementary revenue collecting agency was the Inland Revenue
.ranch which appears to have been in charge of nuisance taxes now nor-
• treated as the special prerogative of municipal governments The
•xes on such varied items as steamboats, public houses, billiard tables.
The Civil Service When Kingston Was The Capital of Canada 19
'hawkers, pedlars and petty chapmen" seldom produced sufficient revenues
to pay the costs of collection.
Nearly all the government employees in the departments concerned
with financial administration were stationed in various centres scattered
throughout the province. As a consequence the presence in Kingston of
the dozen officials, who made up the total headquarter's staff of all these
agencies, contributed very little to the congestion in the new capital.
(3) Defence. The main department connected with local defence
arrangements was the Office of Adjutant General which was in charge of
the militia. Since the inhabitants (except in the infrequent occurrence of a
crisis or the festive "muster day" ) took a rather cavalier attitude toward
the militia, the office tended to conduct a fairly relaxed undertaking. When
Hon. John A. Macdonald took over as first Minister of Militia in 1861 he
found three clerks, one of whom had not attended the office since 1859
because of epilepsy, a second was blind and the third was at "an advanced
age and in delicate health". Altogether, there appear to have been roughly
nine people employed at headquarters during its stay in Kingston. (My
score card now reads: for the ten departments mentioned thus far, we
have approximately 50 civil servants in Kingston, as against about 115 in
"the field" ).
(4) Education and Welfare. Aside from the Education Offices for
Upper and Lower Canada which, in fact, worked out of Toronto and
Quebec respectively, certain public institutions, like hospitals, asylums and
the penitentiary would be included in this fourth category. The Indian De-
partment and the Emigration office would also fit appropriately under this
heading. Theoretically, these public institutions reported to the Provincial
Secretary but in practice lived almost an autonomous administrative
existence. During this period, only the Provincial Penitentiary was of any
real significance in the administrative life of Kingston.
While the Indian Department made its headquarters in Kingston, its
organization was so loose that it scarcely warranted the title "department".
Indian affairs appear to have been run by a queer mixture of Whitehall
departments, Lieutenant-Governors, the military personnel in the province
and the Commissariat. Since its major preoccupation had been and still
was the distribution of presents to the Indian tribes, the operations of the
agency were highly dispersed amongst the sixty-odd agents working in
the "Indian Superintendencies" stretching from Manitoulin Island to
Montreal. Colonel S. P. Jarvis was in charge of the very tiny headquarters
staff while it was in Kingston. About the time the seat of government was
removed to Montreal, Jarvis was engaged in a heated correspondence with
the Board o Audit in England over some disputed accounts which lasted
for several years and ultimately resulted in his dismissal. Thenceforward
until 1860, the Governor's Secretary acted as Superintendent of Indian
The Civil Service When Kingston Was The Capital of Canada
The Emigration Office throughout the whole pre-Confederation period
kept its headquarters in Quebec Kingston participated in the administra-
tion of immigration affairs only through the presence of a local agent who
handled the traffic as it passed up river to the interior. The British orien-
tation of the agency is - g ..vsted by its very title — "Emmigration Office'" —
- hief purpose, in the eyes of Imperial authorities being to handle British
emigrants, rather than Canadian immigrants. It was shortly after the
eminent left Kingston that the Emigration Office met its first major
sis — the influx during 1847 of tens of thousands of plague-ridden Irish
immigrants. Disastrous as this forlorn tide of humanity proved to be.
Canada nevertheless managed to wrest from it a major concession, the
control over her own immigration service.
Perhaps the most colorful episode in the long career of this agency
:rred some time after the civil service had left Kingston — although it
did involve Mr. Macpherson. the Kingston immigrant agent. This was the
case of the Limerick Union Girls. Some eighty of these girls from Dublin
landed at Point Levis without any prior notice of their arrival. They im-
mediately went out on the town, selling all their wordly goods and becom-
ing: uproariously drunk. The alarmed authorities shunted them quickly to
Montreal where they were sheltered by a kindly order of nursing sisters.
Their behaviour remained unimproved and they then had to be passed on
up the St. Lawrence for distribution amongst the population. In Ottawa
we hear of them being rejected as totally unfit for domestic employment
and at Kingston, after the local agent had found occupations for them, they
- ra came back on his hands. \Ye have a final glimpse of them steaming
for Toronto, as Mr. Macpherson noted in shocked surprise, some of them
lying dead drunk on the decks and some of them in the arms of artillerv
:ers who were on board. "And all this in broad daylight, too", was Mr.
Macpherson's final sad commentary.
Returning to our score cards we may now note that fourteen agencies
have been accounted for and that so far only about 60 officers were actually
working at headquarter's staff in Kingston.
5 Natural Resources and Development. The largest operating
and spending departments were included in this fifth category, adminis-
tration of natural resources and development of communications. Syden-
ham reorganized the Crown Lands Department while it was in Kingston
but he probably never envisaged that it would become a holding company
lor a vast miscellany of administrative duties. In addition to the real estate
operations of the government, it soon absorbed the Surveyor General's
Bee (IS- 5 and took on such new branches as Mines (1847), Woods
and Forests (1854), Fisherie- :- : ~ and. ultimatelv. Indian Affairs
The biggest administrative problem of this agencv was the hoard of
:h it had to deploy across the province, disposing of the
hich were the only capital assets at that time. How
The Civil Service When Kingston Was The Capital of Canada 21
to superintend them and, more particularly, how to keep them honest in
the face of almost inexhaustible opportunities for plunder were the main
unresolved issues. Moreover, given the variety of somewhat disconnected
and autonomous branches contained under its roof, the Department faced
a perpetual problem of coordination. It is not surprising, on that account,
to find Crown Lands pioneering in the use of a permanent official at the
top, now a familiar and indispensable part of every government depart-
ment, namely, the Deputy Minister. But that notable advance was to take
place some time after the civil service had departed from Kingston.
The other giant department was Public Works ; its main administra-
tive difficulties derived from its responsibilities as chief spending agency of
the province. The Union of 1841 had been cemented with the Imperial
loan of one and a half million pounds, most of which was to be spent on
public works. Consequently. Sydenham took special pains to see that the
Department vested with the important duty of spending this money would
be honestly and efficiently run. Since most of the loan was devoted to
building the canal life-line of the colony, the Department of Public Works
was virtually a department of transport. In addition, however, it acted also
as the government's housekeeper, building and maintaining all public
buildings, gaols, court houses and the like.
The man who presided over this department while it was in Kingston
and, indeed, off and on. for many years after, was Hamilton Killaly. One
of his fishing friends, and Sydenham's Chaplain, the Reverend Agar
Adamson, has left us this amusing and revealing description of him. We
may conclude from it, I think, that the early civil service in Kingston was
not without its characters.
He was the most expensively and the worst dressed man on the wide continent
of North America. ... I have seen him at one time promenading a populous city
in a dirty, powder-smeared and blood-stained shooting coat, while his nether man
was encased in black dress pantaloons, silk stockings and highly varnished french-
leather dancing pumps ... It was a complete puzzle to his acquaintances where he
obtained all the old hats he wore . . . Though his head was white, and his face
purple — like a red cabbage in snow — he was, as Nathaniel Hawthorne says "a won-
derful specimen of wintergreen". . . . His voice and laugh . . . came strutting out of
his lungs, like the crow of a cock. . . . His temper was uncertain as the wind to-
wards his subordinates, sometimes familiar as a playfellow, at others as injurious,
overbearing and unreasoning as a Turk. He was more cautious, however, with his
superiors, and with those whose opinions might affect his interests.
Apart from the expenditure side of this department, its main problems
arose from the presence of large numbers of technically trained personnel
on its staff. The relations between the skilled engineer and the politically
responsible layman who was required to direct the department's affairs
always revealed a serious tension. The engineers had a tendency to assume
powers and make decisions which were not constitutionally theirs to take.
This is a constant temptation when the man on top is not a specialist and
probably incapable of understanding the specialists' explanations. The up-
shot of this uneasy relationship between the politically responsible layman
The Civil Service When Kingston Was The Capital of Canada
and the technically competent specialist was periodic upheavals in the de-
partment caused by sudden revolts on the pan of the political head against
the assumption of power by his skilled subordinates. The revolt usually
anissa E the chief permanent official who always hap-
pened t - same time, an engineer. Killaly. for example, was dis-
charged for an irresponsible, over-enthusiastic expansion of the canal
building projects and later Samuel Keefer met his Waterloo over the
n of the Ottawa Parliament Buildings. These epi-
sodes have had their most recent contemporary parallel in the highways
scandal in the Province of Ontario.
With these two large departments added to our previous list the total
population of bureaucrats in Kingst' in came to about one hundred, while
another two hundred and fifty or so would have been dispersed throughout
the province. Roughly that would mean that there was one civil servant
for every 3.000 citizens as contrasted today with a ratio of approximately
one to forty-five.
Working Conditions in the Civil Service. I have not made any in-
tensive investigation of the local housing arrangements for civil servants
while they were in Kingston, nor does space permit more than a
brief glance at the working conditions then prevailing. Civil servants
were, of course, recruited on the casual patronage system which
lingered for a long time after Confederation. No examinations of
any kind were required until after the first Civil Service Act was
-sed in 1857. However, for land surveyors and timber cullers
- the group of timber graders at Lachine and Quebec were called )
tests were instituted somewhat earlier. We should preserve per-
spective here and note that this situation was not confined to the
il service. There were really no professions firmly established in
these earlv times: doctors, lawyers, engineers and the rest were by
the firmly-entrenched professionals thev have now be-
me. Promotions - ne might expect, tended to follow the easy
and automatic principle of seniority. Salaries appear to have been
quite decent judged by prevailing standards. Many public officials
re able to keep servants in true Victorian style and in a land
wh- re the exception, civil servants probably
ttle : a ■ : - e to complain .
servants rked in stove-heated, ill-ventilated offices lit
_i were from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., '"without in-
inter, presumably because of inadequate lighting
early cl aylight. office hours were from 9 to 3.30.
mental regv odern standards, would appear
quite - No newspapers were to be read in the
/.unication with outsiders was permitted without
officer, i This regulation was emphasized
El - speculators attempting to ingratiate
lerks 5m - prohibited — most likely
The Civil Service When Kingston Was The Capital of Canada 23
because o" the constant fire hazards. Absence without leave for
more than one hour was likely to bring- the offender on the carpet.
Paper work, always regarded as th< true signia I bureaucra
was tremendous and relentless. To process a militiaman's land
claim, for example, required eighteen different entries to cor.- rt
the claim to scrip, another ?ixteen to get land with the scrip, and
involved eight different branches of government to consumate the
transactions. The financial departments maintained duplicate records
in order to provide a check and double check on departmental account-
ants but since these records never tallied and the books re kep: in
different ways, they were almost worthle--
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the bureaucra n its
earlv days was the way it mirrored the political dualism produced by
the new and uneasy union between the two Canadas. We are
familiar with the system of joint premierships which that union
required : it is not so generally known that this same dualism was
also carried well down into the administrative services. There wer<
for example, branches of Canada East and Canada West in the
surveyors, land sales and land patents divisf - Provincial
Secretary's Office and in the Public Works Department. This did
not mean that these separate divisions carried on their activil -
their own respective sections : the United Province, they all. in
fact, worked in Kingston. Nevertheless, the presence of quite
separate administrative entities for each section was a clear indication
that the Union of 1S41 was only superficially a joint enterpri-
This. then, was the Canadian civil service at the time when
Kingston was the capital. Our story must on a gloomy
note. In November. 1843, the provincial Assembly api - : a re-
solution to shift the capital to Montreal. King-: as stunned, but
even as late as May. 1S44. the British Whig was still "sanguine that
'hings will turn up preventing the removal altogether". The por-
tents, however, were ominous. In Montreal the government sffices
were ready. Sir Charles Metcalfe, the Governor, lingered in Kingston
only because the plaster in his new abode had not I dried. Some
senior officials were also completing arrangements for their departure.
Mr. Samuel Keefer. chief engineer of the Public V - Department.
was offering his place for rent. Killaly followed suit by offering
to let his cottage, known as the Saint's Rest ; mplete, so the adver-
tisement claimed, with hot and cold baths. Even Metcalfe's cook
prepared for the departure by inviting all tradesmen merchants,
if he had overlooked them, to submit their bills.
On June 4th. the British Ji'hig reported that a". Js ere
packing and preparing to move down river in earnest Indeed. :
paper had cause to complain of the thoroughness with
least one member of the bureaucracy had packed his belonging-
24 The Civil Service When Kingston Was The Capital of Canada
large packing case being loaded aboard ship happened to burst open
and revealed half a cord of the official's firewood valued at 3/6. The
cost of transporting this bulky item of "personal effects", the Whig
acidly pointed out would have amounted to £1.9s.6d. ■ !
In the fune 14th issue of the Kingston Chronicle and Gazette we are
informed that the public offices have closed their doors for the last
time, only the Emigrant agent and the Adjutant General remaining
behind. Five days later it reports that the public officers have left
for Montreal. "Kingston appears, as may be expected, dull and flat.
That very serious injury has been inflicted upon some individuals,
vho have been induced to expend money in building houses — even
probably to their ruin — is most certain ; that others will suffer from
reduced incomes, and that all more or less will feel the consequences,
cannot be denied". All papers carried fulsome reports of the farewell
breakfast tendered Metcalfe and his retinue at Daly's, but the authen-
tic note (with special attention to the cord wood) is struck by these
verses from the pen of a local bard :
As sung by the Clerks and others on the Evening Previous to
Air - - "The Song of the Shirt".
Pack— pack— pack— Stuff— stuff— stuff-
Pokers, and Tongs and Shovels, Bring all-from a pin to a needle,
Bottles, and cases of sack, Hincks will give us a "puff" —
Move all to our Eastern hovels. Poor Hincks ! He's our parish Beedle.
Pack— Pack— Pack— Stuff— stuff— stuff—
Everything — large and small, Servants and hacks, and spouses,
You can't cram too much in the sack, If there's not luggage enough
For— Government pays for all. We'll pack up our landlord's houses.
Cram— CramCram — Off — off — off —
All you can muster or borrow, Each can boast of his having been a
Give it a twist and jam— Willing companion of
We travel Eastward tomorrow. The amiable learned Hyena.
Cram— cram— cram— Pack— pack— pack—
I- ill up some boxes with hardwood— Everything— large and small-
Honesty's naught but a flam— You can't cram too much in the sack,
Bring all your ashes and cordwood ! For— Government pays for all!
With the rhymes of this doggerel sounding in our ears, we may
appropriately ring down the curtain on this episode in the variegated
history of Kingston.
Early Schools in Kingston
— BY —
F. P. Smith
(Note: Owing to illness, Mr. F. P. Smith zvas unable to complete for publi-
cation the paper which he read before the Society in February 1956 under
the title "The History of Education in Kingston 1785 to the Present". With
Mr. Smith's permission the Editor has reproduced here a paper which Mr.
Smith read to members of the Society in 1933. It contains a great deal of
material which Mr. Smith included in his later paper).
To understand clearly the educational problems of the early inhabi-
tants of Kingston, one must understand the social problems of the citizens.
Wrenched violently from their homes in the American Colonies, they came
to a new land devoid of all the refinements of society to which they had
been accustomed. Those of position had been steeped in the traditions of
their Motherland ; they knew no other kind of education than a training
in the Classics. As far as the masses were concerned there was, however,
no serious thought of including them in the educational system.
Kingston was, and no doubt always will be, predominantly English.
Its first citizens were officers and men of the garrison, together with
officials and merchants. One can readily see that their views of education
would differ materially from those of a community wholly given over to
agricultural pursuits. We must not think of the people of the village of
Kingston as being illiterate. It is true that a great many were unable to
sign their names, but even when we find a man or a woman making his or
her mark, we cannot be too sure that the writer was totally uneducated.
Let us then think of a small village of say fifty houses, ready and anxious
to take advantage of any educational facilities that could be offered.
In 1786 the opportunity came. In that year the Rev. John Stuart,
father of the venerable Archdeacon George Okill Stuart, who had arrived
in Kingston the previous August, started a school. We must not be sur-
prised that Stuart, as an educated clergyman, was interested chiefly in the
classics and in the Anglican catechism. The school was open to any body
(girls would have to receive their training at home) who could pay the fees
prescribed, although Mr. Stuart did not, apparently, insist too strongly
upon payment when the parents could not really afford them. The sub-
jects taught included Latin and Greek, in addition to moral education and
the three 'Rs. One might think this was an unusual kind of school to open
in a back-woods wilderness ; but the people whose sons attended this school
had all received a classical education, and they were perfectly confident
that this was the training best suited to their needs.
At the same time and in the same year, the British garrison stationed
at old Fort Frontenac found the need of a school, and we find that the
chaplain, the Rev. Mr. M. Donovan, acted as schoolmaster at the garrison
school. Mr. Donovan is also to be found acting as schoolmaster in Mr.
),, Early Schools In Kingston
Stuart's school for several years. Subsequently Mr. Stuart's son, George
( )'Kill Stuart (who later opened a school in the provincial capital at York)
became schoolmaster in Kingston. In 1798 it is recorded that the school
held a public examination to which all the people of substance in the com-
munity were invited to attend.
The first public recognition of the work being done by Rev. John
Stuart as the Father of the Kingston educational system, was a grant of
£100 by Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe. At first Mr. Stuart
had conducted the school in his own Rectory. Later it was moved to a
frame building on School Street, now Lower Union. It existed for many
\ ears, and we find the Grammar School Board, as late as the governorship
of Sir John Cathcart, making representations that it was,totally inadequate
to carry on the necessary work.
In the early days each village site chosen, (and we must remember
tbat tbese village sites included practically one for each township) had a
church lot, a lot for a school site and certain lots for the school master.
In the case of Kingston these lots were afterwards sold by the Midland
District Grammar School Board. In 1797 the government of the province
of Upper Canada again furthered the progress of education by laying aside
large areas of land for educational purposes. As can readily be imagined,
the land was of very little use to education, since its sale netted but a
small amount. Yet £180 per year w r as paid the school master and his
family. This amount could be supplemented by the amount received from
boarders, who were expected to remain with the school master if their
homes were at a distance. That this school was not entirely satisfactory we
can judge from the fact that John Strachan, afterwards Archdeacon and
Bishop, was brought out from Scotland to be a tutor to the Cartwright
family. He opened a school in Kingston in the year 1800. He remained
in Kingston for three and a half years and then moved to Cornwall. He
was succeeded in his work by Mr. Mitchell, afterwards Judge Mitchell.
In 1807 the Grammar School Act was passed by the Legislature of
Upper Canada. This was one of the most forward steps in education that
had yet been made in this province. It provided for a Grammar School in
each of the seven districts. That of the eastern district was at Cornwall,
that of the Johnstown district about four miles above Prescott on the St.
Lawrence River, while that of the Midland district was the old school of
Dr. Stuart on Lower Union Street. The sum of £100 a year was given
to each school and a board of trustees appointed by the Lieutenant-Gover-
nor. In these Grammar Schools, as we might expect, the study of the
classics received the major part of the time. However, the mathematics
were not neglected, since in a new province and a mercantile community
it was clearly felt that the pupils must have the rudiments necessary for
business life. As yet there was no opportunity given for the girls. The first
teacher of the Grammar School under the Act of 1807 was Mr. John
Whitelaw. This Grammar School for some years satisfied the needs of the
community. The old school remained in operation for many years, although
Early Schools In Kingston 27
in a most dilapidated condition. Mr. Whitelaw retired in 1817 and was
succeeded by the Rev. John Wilson, whose term of office closed in 1825
when he received an official position in the University of Oxford. He was
succeeded by George Baxter. The first public recognition of non fee-paying
pupils were two scholarship candidates, one from a school on the site of
the Royal Military College. This school grew slowly, and by 1831 had
only forty-eight pupils. Some of the principals were well known. R. V.
Rogers succeeded George Baxter, and in 1849 W. J. Irwin succeeded to
the principalship. A forward step was made when the new Grammar School
was built, which is now called Sydenham School. It had a serious compe-
titor in Queen's University Preparatory School, but in 1862 the two united
and the progress has been steady from that time. In 1862 there were four
teachers and Mr. Samuel Wood was principal. He was succeeded in 1876
by Dr. A. P. Knight.
Not until the year 1870, did England see that education for the masses
of the people was absolutely necessary and commence a system of primary
education. It is not wonderful then that facilities for primary
education should have been established in Upper Canada early
in the century? Loud had been the complaints in the Legislature
that the Grammar Schools were of little value to any but the well-
to-do. Petition after petition came before the house asking that some atten-
tion be paid to primary education. Finally in 1816 the Common School
Act was passed. Boards of Trustees were established with power to open
schools, charge fees and levy rates upon the community for the maintenance
of these schools. Unfortunately, as far as the City of Kingston is con-
cerned, no records have been discovered earlier than 1850. The reason
for this is quite obvious. Each ward of the city was independent and had its
own school board, hired its own teachers and maintained its own school.
Not until the Act was amended in about the year 1849 and a common
Board of Education appointed for the whole city was any real progress
In the year 1846 there were seven schools and 622 pupils. About fifty
pounds was collected from tuition fees and the rate bill. The average sal-
ary per teacher was sixty-six pounds. In 1847 the city was divided into
four school sections and there were ten schools, five male and five female.
The number of children under sixteen years of age attending them was
720, and the average attendance was 72. In 1849 a common board was
appointed for the whole city and from that time until the present progress
has been steady. However, the report of the superintendent for the year
1849 shows that within the city limits there were 2,500 pupils between the
age of five and sixteen. Of this number 738 were in attendance at the
common schools and 826 in private schools. Truly, the English sentiment
was prevailing at that late date. If the progress was not rapid after 1816
until 1850 and very few schools were established until the Act, yet there
was no lack of private ventures. In 1817 we gather from the Kingston
Gazette that Baker's Classical School was opened on Rear Street, now
Early Schools In Kingston
Barrie. Mr. Wolfe had a private day school for girls ; Mrs. Hill one for
young ladies; while Mr. Tolkien was ready to teach reading, writing,
arithmetic, grammar and geography. As if this list was not formidable
enough we find that in 1818 Mr. Harris opened a new school; Mr. Hodg-
son advertised one with a ponderous curriculum; Mr. Lapsley was ready
to take pupils ; and Mr. and Mrs. Pringle had also commenced business.
We will emphasize the word business, for these schools were not opened
from any sense of public sentiment but purely for private gain. They were
usually placed in poor quarters and lasted but a short time, to be succeeded
by others of the same nature.
Only from incidental references do we find other schools under the
Grammar School Act in existence. The one on Point Frederick was in
operation with a board of public school trustees and sent a scholarship boy
to the Grammar School. If we did not know otherwise, we would be com-
pelled to believe that very little attention was paid to elementary education
in the city of Kingston from 1816 till 1850. Such, however, was not the
case, and there was a reason why more pupils were attending other schools
than those attending the Common Schools established under the Act of 1816.
Early in the century public sentiment was being focused upon the subject
of primary education. The legislators saw the need plainly enough but there
was no system by which the need could be met. All saw, or thought they
saw, that schools should be cheap if the masses were to be educated. Free
education was not popular, and the argument was put forward that free
education was pauperizing the people.
The first movement came from a man named John Lancaster, whose
aim was to establish schools with an enrolment of as high as a thousand
pupils. By an ingenious system of monitors much good was to be accom-
plished at an extremely low cost. We can now look back on the move-
ment and see its great defects. The education was of a purely mechanical
type and did not teach the pupils to think. However, this movement, which
made great headway in Great Britain, had its effect on the Kingston schools
and we are yet benefitting from the movement. In 1815 the Midland
District School Society was formed for the purpose of establishing a
Lancasterian School in Kingston. Funds were solicited, a building pur-
chased and a teacher engaged. The plan was good. Great attention was paid
to the morals' of the children, and the children were expected to attend
divine worship at such times and such places as their parents or guardians
should direct. This school was situated opposite Sydenham Street Church.
At first it flourished, but owing to the imperfection of the methods
employed it greatly languished and was in danger of going out of existence ;
in fact, for a few years it remained closed. However, fortunately for the
City of Kingston, in 1833 it was re-opened under a new charter, allow-
ing any method to be used, and for many years answered the needs of a
great number of children. Primarily meant for poor children, soon mem-
bers of the better class attended and good work was accomplished. Some-
Early Schools In Kingston 29
times the enrolment rose to three hundred. The fees were extremely small,
as low as five cents a week. When the school was no longer found necessary,
owing to the advance in primary education under our present school
system, the school was closed, but the Midland District School Society
yet remains. From the invested funds the board of trustees, which is self-
perpetuating, grants money to the Childrens Aid Society and sometimes
to the Board of Education for playground purposes.
During this period the women of Kingston, never behind in matters
of education or other unselfish work, had organized a hospital. The hos-
pital became too large for their efforts and after Kingston ceased to be the
capital of Canada was handed over to the Board of Governors and now
forms the present Kingston General Hospital. Their attention was then
directed to a House of Industry which is now a stone building on Earl
Street between Division and Barrie. To this was attached a school for
poor children. Strange to say, each child attending was given his or her
mid-day meal. This institution afterwards changed and became the Or-
phans' Home, in which was again established a school.
It is not my purpose to describe the schools of Kingston later than
the year 1850. As I have mentioned before, primary education had been
established but had by no means reached the masses of the people. When
we think that but one-quarter of the total school population were attending
common schools, whereas now practically ninety-nine percent attend
them, w r e can see the advance made since 1850. Let us examine the situ-
ation as it existed when the Common School Act permitted the City Council
to appoint one school board for the whole city. Not one school house was
owned by the board. All were in the hands of private individuals and were
rented to the board by the owners. The owners were the teachers.
In 1850 the following schools were in operation:
Mr. and Mrs. Hoppin, Clarence, between King and Wellington ; Mr.
Bryson, Union Street, opposite St. James' Church ; Mr. O'Donnell, On-
tario, near Queen ; Mr. Scott, Bagot, between Johnson and William ; Mr.
Morrison, Division, corner of Division and Brock; Miss Clarke, Williams-
ville School, then on Victoria Street ; Miss Chestnut, Queen Street, one
door east of St. Paul's Church ; Miss Graham, Colborne, near Sydenham
Street ; The Morrison, Johnson, corner Johnson and Bagot. It will be
noted that the sexes were segregated and half the teachers were men and
half were women.
A Clash in St. Paul's Churchyard
— BY —
R. A. Preston
In June of this year a large gathering of interested people will
gather at the U.E.L. Cemetery in Adolphustown to attend ceremonies
which will fittingly mark the success of efforts to restore that
historic place to a decent condition. In recent newspaper articles
this cemetery has been described as one of the oldest English ceme-
teries in Ontario, which of course it is. It has also been said to be
"perhaps the oldest" and "possibly one of the first white cemeteries
in Ontario". The basis for these claims is that a child was buried in
that place within a few days of the arrival of the Lovalists on June
Although that cemetery is undoubtedly one of the oldest Loyalist
cemeteries and one of the oldest white cemeteries which still exists
in Ontario, it is not the oldest known white burying ground in this
province. The French came here to Cataraqui in 1673 ; and obviously
the Recollet and Jesuit priests who served at Fort Frontenac would
have a cemetery. Indeed we have a Recollet Parish Register for the
years 1747 to 1752 which records ten burials, French and Indian.
And from a statement made many years later by one of the first
English settlers we know where the French graveyard was. He
declared "The old French burial ground was situated near old Fort
Frontenac, on the point where the Honourable Richard Cartwright
formerly resided". That puts it somewhere near where the road enters
the La Salle Causeway from the west, perhaps under buildings of
the present Fort Frontenac. The same man also recollected the site
of two ancient Indian burial grounds near to the French fort; but
unfortunately he did not state where they were.
There is also reason to believe that the U.E.L. Cemetery is not
as old as St. Paul's Churchyard. The information about French and
Indian cemeteries was given by a William Crawford in 1825 at an
enquiry designed to prove that the first English cemetery in Catara-
qui (i.e., Kingston) belonged to the episcopal Church of' St. George-
In the course of the enquiry, evidence about the first establishment
of that cemetery, now known as St. Paul's churchyard, threw light
on its age. Several witnesses stated that the cemetery had been
reserved at the insistence of the Reverend John Stuart, the first
Church of England clergyman in Upper Canada, who had obtained
the ground from the commandant of the troops, Major John Ross.
If this was so, it would suggest that St. Paul's churchyard was not
used as a burying ground as early as that at Adolphustown; for
John Stuart came only briefly to Cataraqui in June of 1784 and did
not return to take up permanent residence here until August 1785.
A Clash In St. Paul's Churchyard 31
But it is likely that in this respect the witnesses at the enquiry
were wrong. Several others gave more precise details. One testified
as follows: "I, John Ferguson of the town of Kingston, do hereby
declare that in the fall of the year one thousand seven hundred and
eighty three, this declarant, by the direction of Major Ross of the
34th Regiment, at that time Commandant of Kingston, did mark out
the boundary line of the ground now occupied as the Episcopal
Burying ground (i.e. St. Paul's churchyard), that Major Ross was
present at the time, and that the first person that was interred in
the said ground was a Corporal Forrester of the Second Battalion
of the Royal Yorkers"- William Crawford, he who remembered the
French and Indian burying grounds, told this to the committee taking
evidence in 1825 : "A man named Forbes died shortly after the
arrival of the said battalion (of the Royal Regiment of New York
which arrived in Kingston on July 30, 1783) and was among the
first interred in what is now called the Lower Episcopal Burying
Ground". He added that "One Sweeney" of the 84th Regiment, who
was on leave at Fort Frontenac, died "early in the winter of 1784"
and was also interred there. By "winter of 1784" he probably meant
the early months of the year- He also said, "This burial ground was
not enclosed until after 1784 when a paling fence was put around
it". This last statement probably explains the erro r s made by those
witnesses who thought that Stuart had solicited the Commandant
to set the ground aside for a cemetery. They remembered that it
had been one of the Rector's first cares after his arrival.
Even more positive evidence came from John Carscallen, a
Deputy Chaplain of the Royal Yorkers, who said that he came to
Fort Frontenac in the spring of 1783 and that he buried a Corporal
Forbes, who was the first person to be buried in the lower episcopal
burying ground which was set apart by Major Ross. We also know
that the Reverend John Stuart, on one of his two visits to Cataraqui
in 1784, buried a child in Kingston.
This evidence shows clearly that the St. Paul's churchyard ante-
dates that at Adolphustown. The differences about the identity of
the first person to be buried there are not important. They can be
explained by the inevitable weaknesses of memory forty two years
after the event.
The enquiry in 1825, which thus establishes for us the age of
the cemetery, was held in connection with an unseemly clash at a
funeral in the burying ground, between a clergyman of the Church
of England and a minister of the Church of Scotland. The men
concerned were the Venerable George Okill Stuart, Archdeacon of
York and Rector of St. George's, the son and successor of the
Reverend John Stuart, and the Reverend John Barclav, the first
Minister of St. Andrew's Church. An earlier clash between these
men at the burial ground is described by Mr. Roy in Kingston, the
32 A Clash In St. Paul's Churchyard
King's Town where Mr. Roy takes the attitude that Stuart was
entirely at fault because the Church of England and the Church of
Scotland were, "in the eyes of Canadian law, ... of equal status
and entitled to the same privileges and benefits". Mr. Roy said
that the Presbyterians were surprised to find that their claims to
bury their dead in the episcopal churchyard opposed, He alleged
that Stuart was a "hard grasping man of business by nature who . . .
showed little of the grace of God at the beginning of his ministry
and who. . . ought to have been a realtor". Stuart's opposition to the
Presbyterians he described as "a most unchristian and uncharitable
act". Mr. Roy apparently did not know about the later incident
which was much more dramatic than the one which he described and
which would have given even more scope to his very vivid pen.
These two incidents in the churchyard cannot be attributed to
tne personal qualities of the men concerned. The friction in Kingston
was a part of a conflict which had spread throughout Upper Canada-
To understand them it is necessary to know something about that
wider struggle and also about the early history of the churches and
the burying ground in Kingston.
When the Reverend John Stuart came to Cataraqui he was the
only clergyman in Upper Canada with a so-called "parish" extending
from Point Baudet to the Thames River. For many years there
were very few other clergymen in the Province. In the earliest days
all the Protestants in Kingston worshipped together in the new
barracks built by Ross on the site of the old French fort in which
a room was fitted out as a chapel. Stuart had applied for an appoint-
ment as Rector of Kingston and also as chaplain to the garrison.
But it was several years before he received any money from the
government in either of those capacities, and he supported himself
by the farm which he worked in Kingston (it was on the site where
Queen's University now stands), and with a £50 allowance from the
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. He told
the Bishop of Nova Scotia in 1788 that as soon as there was any
question of collecting money from his parishioners to pay for his
salary he discovered that the episcopalians were far outnumbered
by the dissenters. This was indeed the case, especially outside
Kingston. Stuart also said that the Loyalists expected to get their
religion in the same way as they got their rations of flour and peas,
as free issues from the government.
Despite this vast majority of dissenters in the new settlements
Stuart and other churchmen were anxious to establish the Church
of England in Canada as it was established in England and they
received powerful support from Lieutenant Governor Simcoe. Even
before Simcoe arrived Stuart had been granted a salary of £100 per
annum by the government in Quebec as the Rector of Kingston.
From 1791, following a policy which had been begun with the Quebec
A Clash In St. Paul's Churchyard 33
Act of 1774, one-seventh of unallotted land was set aside for the
support of the "Protestant" clergy. The Church of England claimed
that, as it was the established church in England when the act was
made, the clergy reserves were intended for its support and its
support alone. This claim was naturally resented by the great
majority of the population who belonged to other churches.
Interdenominational strife was much more bitter then than it is
now. It was irritated at that particular time by this question of the
clergy reserves. The clergy reserves question was thorny because
the large areas of undeveloped land hindered the economic develop-
ment of the country- Yet, because of the amount of animosity arous-
ed between religious groups, the problem proved difficult to solve.
One critic described the reserves thus: "Like rocks in the ocean
they glare in the forest, unproductive themselves, and a beacon of
evil to all who approach them". The years from 1819 to 1825, when
the Kingston cemetery question was being disputed were times of
intense excitement about the reserves. The local problem had a
direct connection with the larger issue, and a decision here might
have been an important precedent. The Executive Council of the
province favoured retaining them for the Church of England, while
a majority in the Assembly championed the cause of the Presbyter-
ians. To make matters worse, the Assembly had in 1816 passed an
Act to abolish tithes (also a question related to the problem of the
reserve.) but it did not become law until 1822, and the Assembly was
naturally irritated by the delay. There is no wonder, then, that the
Provincial government failed to act expeditiously on the question
of the Kingston cemeteries and that the contestants were therefore
brought to the brink of violence.
In the townships near Kingston most of the settlers were
Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians. They were at first served
only by circuit-riding missionaries from the American Methodist
Church. There was keen rivalry between the Church of England
and the Methodists. The Reverend John Langhorne, sent out by
the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to aid Stuart, was
established at Ernestown (Bath) and there waged an unremitting
war against the dissenters. He embarrassed Stuart on one occasion
by announcing that as marriages performed by ministers other than
those of the Church of England were illegal, persons so married were
free to marry someone else. Two Lutheran couples took him at his
word and came to him to be remarried — with a switch in partners.
On one occasion a Methodist preacher turned the tables on Lang-
horne by stopping him in the street and asking him earnestly if he
was saved. Langhorne also had frequent clashes with the Presby-
terian minister at Frederickburg, Mr. McDowall. The Rector of
Ernestown was a peculiar character- He was rigidly orthodox: and
he caused quite a furore by excommunicating those of his parishion-
ers who failed to come to communion. Stuart frequently reported
A Clash In St. Paul's Churchyard
to the S.P.G. that he was a continual source of embarrassment; but
"H the end he said that the people were getting vised to his peculiar
ways, so much so that if the Rector of Ernestown were to walk down
the street naked they would take no notice.
The right of performing marriages, over which Langhorne had
wrangled with the dissenters, was another way in which the Church
of England had virtually been established in Upper Canada. In
1798 that church's exclusive position in that respect was modified
when Lutheran and Calvinist ministers were given the right to take
out a license to permit them to perform the marriage service. But
members of other denominations, notably the Methodists who were
growing in numbers, especially in the rural areas, had to repair to
either an espicopal priest or a Presbyterian minister to get married.
In Kingston itself the English church was much more firmly
entrenched than elsewhere. This was probably because Kingston
was a garrison town and there was a traditional alliance between the
English church and the army. It was also no doubt due to the
powerful personal influence of "the little gentleman", as John Stuart
was affectionately called because he stood six feet four Two Metho-
distical preachers had, indeed, attempted to invade Stuart's private
reserve in Kingston in 1790. An Irishman named McCarty, who
had no official Methodist affiliation, was driven from the town
as a vagabond and disappeared in mysterious circumstances which
caused him to become something of a Methodist martyr. The other,
a well known Methodist pioneer named Lossee, failed to make any
headway in the town itself and so withdrew to a remote area of the
township, about five miles from the urban area, and there built a
chapel. This was at a hamlet which later was called Waterloo and
is now Cataraqui. To counteract his influence the Reverend John
Stuart made a practice of going once a month to preach in that area
on a week day.
The Presbyterians had had an army chaplain on Carleton Island,
the Reverend John Bethune, and he had probably come occasionally
to Cataraqui in the first few months-But when the regiments were
disbanded he went down to Montreal and then later returned to
Glengarry county, where he built a church in 1787. Another Presby-
terian, Robert McDowall, was located in Frederickburgh (Sandhurst)
from about 1800. His register of births and marriages is now in the
Queen's library. It contains a few names from Kingston between
1800 and 1820 which show that he extended his ministry into the
town. Significantly there are no entries for Presbyterian burials,
either there or elsewhere. Apart from these, the only competitors
John Stuart had were the Catholics who tried to set up a chapel as
early as 1793 and who actually built the first stone church in the
town in 1808.
A Clash In St. Paul's Churchyard 35
This survey of the religious history of early Kingston is neces-
sary because it helps to explain the history of the old burial ground
set aside for civil and military use by Major Ross The "glebe
land", the one seventh clergy reserve, was up at the top of the Syden-
ham Street hill in an area not at first developed. Moreover it seemed
to be too shallow in soil for use as a graveyard. Therefore, the land
marked out in 1783 continued to be used as the communal burying
ground. Before the first St. George's was built in 1792, on the ground
now occupied by the Whig-Standard building, a sexton had been
appointed by a Vestry meeting of Stuart's church. He was paid
sixpence a week to sweep out the barrack room used as a church.
He was also instructed to dig graves in the churchyard, to collect the
fees for interment, and to collect his own remuneration for digging
the graves. As early as 1789 the churchwardens of the Church of
England had turned their attention to the graveyard and arranged
to enclose it with a paling fence. Later, between 1800 and 1810, the
paling fence was replaced by a stone wall with a gate and a padlock.
These cost St- George's church £120. 8s. 2^d. It was said later that
the Reverend John Stuart realized that his church had no title deeds
for this land and that, in co-operation with his foremost parishioner,
the Honourable Richard Cartwright, an application was made for a
proper title. If this is so, for some reason the deeds were never
made out. Perhaps, as was afterwards believed, the matter seemed
of small import in those early years. The churchyard though main-
tained by the churchwardens of St. George's, was available for all
Christians. There was no one likely to dispute the title.
The War of 1812 brought a large increase in Kingston's popula-
tion and soon created the need for more ground in which to inter
the dead. The Catholics had probably begun, even before the war, to bury
in the churchyard of their new church, St. Joseph's*, which was on the site
of the present Notre Dame Convent. The cemetery was where the recrea-
tion yard is now. From 1822 there was also a graveyard in connection with
a "Union Church" built by a group of Protestant sects at the south-
west corner of Barrie and Johnson. Some private burial grounds
also came to be used. The Herkimers had one on the site of Ban
Righ ; and I am told that there are gravestones in the yard of a
house on the south-west corner of King and Lower William which
may have been the site of another private cemetery. But the chief
expansion of graveyard facilities came as the result of a petition made
jointlv by members of the Church of England, the military, and the
Roman Catholics about 1819. This led to the opening of the grave-
j ard at the top of the hill where the Lions Park is now situated'
The Methodists, Presbyterians, and other groups did not partici-
pate in this petition and therefore received no part of the grant.
j ..*o Roy ' p64 follows Horsey, and calls this church St. Joseph's. Both quote a tablet which
read St. Columba, 9th June 1808". Brig. A. E. Ross History of St. Andrew's Church referred
to St. Columbus" Church as the Catholic church in 1825.
36 A Clash In St. Paul's Churchyard
The former were not strong in the town of Kingston. A few
English Methodists had come to Kingston immediately after the war,
only to become involved in a bitter dispute with the American Metho-
dists who had long been established in the country round about.
The English Methodists were probably too deeply committed on that
front to get engaged in another contest. Furthermore they tended
to recruit from the poorer citizens; and they were not yet influential.
They had no official recognition, not even that granted to Lutherans
. and Calvinists in the Marriage Act of 1798. When they wanted land
for a church in 1817 they had to pay for it. 'To him that hath shall
be given"- The whole position of the Methodists in these religious
rivalries at this time was summed up by a Presbyterian writer on
the question of the clergy reserves by a cutting statement : the
Wesleyan Methodists were, he said, as "obsequious as ever".
But the Presbyterians were a very different group. Since the
Marriage Act they could claim that their church had had some
recognition in Canada. One or two Presbyterian ministers had been
granted state salaries although usually only £50 as against the
£100 granted to the Church of England parsons. Their Church was,
of course, the established church of Scotland and they were able to
argue that it was recognized by the Act of Union as an official
established church in Great Britain. They therefore contended the
Episcopal claim that when the acts of 1774 and 1791 referred to the
support of "Protestant clergy" they meant only those of the establish-
ed church and that that church was the Church of England. How-
ever, it was rather awkward for their argument that the act of 1791
also spoke of the setting up of "rectories" which were a purely
The law lords of England wrestled with this knotty problem in
1819 and came up with a ruling which, as is often the case with
legal decisions, at first seemed clear but on second reading left things
much as they were. They ruled that the clergy reserves need not be
confined to the Church of England only, but should be extended to
the Church of Scotland. Other dissenters, however, had no claims
upon them. This seemed fairly clear, but as they went on to say
that the colonial government might, if it wished,' either divide the
whole seventh in any particular township or give it all to the Church
of England, the situation remained much as before. This equivocal
decision in favour of the pretensions of the Presbvterians had been
countered in the same year by an episcopalian demarche. Archbishop
Mountain had persuaded the government to set up "clergy corpora-
tions" in each district to administer the reserves. The Church of
England was obviously determined to make good its claims to these
fisTof Presb y terians in Kingston had not joined in the petition
F 1819 for a common burying ground for a very good reason. Riding
A Clash In St. Paul's Churchyard 37
the tide of growing sentiment in favour of their having a share in
the clergy reserves, they had already petitioned successfully in 1817
for land on which to build a church, a manse, and for use as a grave-
yard. Before they received it they had had to modify their petition
and the proposed deed- They had had to omit the name of a Mr.
Bidwell, who was an American, from the list of proposed trustees.
And they had had to reword the proposed deed so that, as a member
of the Upper Canada administration told them, it would "prevent,
at a future day, these canting American scoundrels from obtaining a
footing in the church". The new wording read, 'for the sole use
of the Established Presbyterian Church at Kingston in communion
with the established sister church in Great Britain". After these
cautious amendments had been made the deed was issued on January
30, 1818 and the foundation stone of St. Andrews was laid on July
20, 1820. The following year a minister from Scotland was appoint-
ed, the Reverend John Barclay.
It had been intended to use the land close to St. Andrews church
as a burying ground. Unfortunately it proved to be too shallow.
Hence, at the end of 1822 the Reverend Mr. Barclay claimed the
right to bury Presbyterians in the Episcopal Burying Grounds. He
argued that the two churches were equally privileged and established.
On January 10, 1823 Stuart told Barclay that while Presbyterians
had a conditional claim to the privilege of interment in the graveyard
it was not a right. He added that they could be buried there provided
the Anglican services were used. Some time before this, perhaps as
early as 1821, the key of the Lower Burying Ground had been put
into the hands of the sexton ; and he was now given specific instruc-
tions about funeral procedure. He was told that in the case of
funerals of non-members of the Church of England the Rector would
not proceed to the house of the deceased unless specially requested
to do so, but would meet the funeral procession at the gates of the
Feeling between the denominations in Kingston was at this
time growing in intensity- At a St. George's vestry meeting on
Easter Monday, March 31, 1823 it was laid down that charitable
relief should be given only to destitute members of the church and
impoverished strangers ; other paupers should be referred to the
religious societies to which they belonged. Similarly the church-
i wardens were instructed to pay for the interment of poor members
of the church and of strangers, but not for the funerals of members
of other churches.
After the firm stand taken by Stuart on the question of Presby-
lerian burials, four men met to discuss the situation. They were
the Archdeacon, the Reverend William Fraser, the Roman Catholic
priest of St. Columbus church, the Reverend John Barclay, and Mr.
Tohn McLean, the Sheriff of the Midland District and an elder of
38 A Clash In St. Paul's Churchyard
St. Andrews. They agreed to petition for an extension to the upper
burying ground which was apparently to be made available to the
Catholics while the portion of that cemetery which had been given
»\ agreement to the Catholics was now to belong to the Presbyter-
ians. This was a perfectly reasonable solution. But it was not
put into effect. The extra land requested entrenched upon the
Clergy's block "C" on the town plot of Kingston and since the
disposal of the clergy reserves had become a hot political issue the
government preferred to do nothing. It is rather absurd that the
fact that the land had been set aside for religious purposes prevented
it from being used as a cemetery when the most powerful denomin-
ations were able to agree upon its disposal for that purpose.
As a result of this stalemate the Presbyterians decided to press
their claims for the use of existing burial grounds. They directed
their attack upon the older, or Lower, cemetery. In the first recorded
case, the burial of a Mr. John Mitchell, the Reverend George Okill
.Stuart was invited to the funeral and he read the burial service of
his church at the graveside. On a subsequent occasion a child of
Sheriff John McLean was to be buried- McLean invited the Arch-
deacon to the funeral but, as he stated afterwards, only "as a friend".
Stuart, however, met the procession at the Lower Rurial Ground
pates, clad in his canonical robes. Mr. Barclav then requested him
to step into a neighbouring house where he asked him if he intended
!:o conduct the burial service. Upon being told that he did, Barclay
replied that he would consent, provided the relatives of the deceased
agreed. He then asked Sheriff McLean in the presence of the Arch-
deacon, whether he wished his child to be buried with the rites of
ihe Church of England or of Scotland. The answer was that he
wanted the service of his own church. Mr. Stuart persisted that
none but the burial service of the episcopal church could be used in
the episcopal burying ground, and so Mr. Barclay, "to avoid on such
an occasion all appearance of a collision, . . . after accompanying the
corpse a certain distance, withdrew and the service was performed
l.y Mr. Stuart".
After this incident, Stuart sent Barclay a copy of the regulations
iormerly issued to the Sexton concerning the burials in the graveyard.
On December 30, 1824 Mr. Barclay replied in writing that these
regulations could only apply to Church of England funerals and were,
as far as other funerals were concerned, "nugatory", because the
burying grounds had never been formally made over to any church
:n particular. Stuart replied on January 3, 1825 that the regulations
would be enforced and expressed regret that Barclay's letter did not
conform with his former verbal acquiescence in the arrangements as
laid down Five weeks later, on February 7, Barclay told Stuart that
he had reported the recent unfortunate collision, "in relation to the
interment of the child of John McLean, in which you read the burial
A Clash In St. Paul's Churchyard 39
service of your church", to the Attorney General who had suggested
that the government should make arrangements for the disposal of
the burying ground and that there ought to be a meeting between
representatives of the two churches to arrange for the division of the
land. Barclay therefore wanted to meet Stuart for this purpose in
the court house. Stuart replied the next day to this letter by saying
that he refused to divide up the burial ground and that a meeting-
could be no more useful than a previous one had been.
Now, since January 1, 1825 the Attorney General had been
James Stuart, third son of the Reverend John, and brother of the
Archdeacon. But it is nowhere made clear whether Barclay had
communicated with James Stuart or with his predecessor, Mr.
On February 28 Archibald McLean, brother of John took the
matter up. Archibald was a member of the Legislative Assemblv
lor Cornwall and a future Chief Justice. He forwarded to Major
Hillier, the Secretary to the Lieutenant Governor and Council, a
copy of a petition from the Kingston Presbyterians. It is not clear
whether this was a new petition for a separate cemetery of their own
or merely that earlier point petition for an extension which had been
submitted in 1823. Archibald McLean described the dispute over the
corpse of his brother's child and said that he was "the more anxious
lor a decision on the subject, as our burial ground at Cornwall is
precisely in the same situation as that at Kingston with this differ-
ence, that Mr. Mountain had not on any occasion interfered, though
he may feel himself justified in doing so hereafter by the example
of Mr. Archdeacon Stuart".
The Presbyterians were apparently determined to force the issue
to a decision. On April 7 Mr. Barclay went to John Corbet, the
Sexton of St. George's, and asked for the keys of the lower graveyard.
He said that he wanted to select a site for a grave The Sexton
demurred, whereupon Mr. Barclay went for Sheriff McLean who was
admitted to the cemetery and who indicated the place where the
grave was to be dug. Mr. Barclay then instructed the Sexton to
open the gates of the graveyard at four o'clock on the next afternoon
to admit a funeral.
The minister next went to see Mr. William Chesnut, a black-
smith. He asked him to attend at the graveyard prepared with tools
to force open the gates if they were locked. Chesnut said that he
would not want to do such a thing. But Mr. Barclay then told him that
he had a ruling from the Attorney General in his favour: and so the
blacksmith said that, although he would not be involved personally,
he would send a man with tools. One wonders whether Chesnut
was impressed by the reference to the Attorney General and assumed,
40 A Clash In St. Paul's Churchyard
rightly or wrongly as the case may be, that it was the Archdeacon's
brother who had given the ruling.
Meanwhile the sexton had reported the matter to the Archdeacon
who told him to go ahead and dig the grave, and to open the gate,
and that he would himself be present- The next afternoon Stuart
awaited the funeral procession at the burial ground gate dressed, as
before, in cassock and surplice. After a little while the funeral pro-
cession appeared, coming down Grave Street (Queen Street). It
was headed by the Minister of St. Andrews and by the Sheriff, John
McLean. The corpse was attended by a large body of mourners,
Episcopalians and Roman Catholics as well as Presbyterians- It is
difficult not to believe that many had turned out to see the fun rather
than out of respect for the dead.
Stuart later reported what happened next to the Vestry Com-
mittee. He said, "I met them at the grave where the Minister of
St. Andrews assisted the bearer of the corpse in letting down the
coffin into the grave and then directed the bearers to 'cover in'. The
men immediately obeyed and threw in the earth. Amidst this inde-
cent and profane procedure I commenced reading the Public Prayers
of the Church of England in the Episcopal Burying Ground. The
men, at the commencement of the prayers, were disposed to cease
from their works when the Reverend John Barclay commended
■them to 'go on'. The work was performed in a violent and hurried
manner and I finished the reading of the prayers".
Corbet, the Sexton, told a much more dramatic story. He said,
"Mr. Stuart began reading the burial service, upon which Mr.
Barclay took hold of one of the sticks which supported the body
over the grave, drew it from under the coffin, and desired some
, persons, who seemed to be in attendance for the purpose (one of
them being provided with a shovel), to lower the body and cover
it up as quickly as possible. This was accordingly done, and with
more haste than is usual upon such occasions, notwithstanding the
Archdeacon was then reading the usual prayers". He said that,
before the prayer was concluded, the grave was nearly filled up.
That evening Mr. Barclay left a note at Blacksmith Chesnut's
shop. It read as follows: "The Revd- J. Barclay requests that Mr.
Chesnut will send him his account for attendance today though his
services were not required". I would like to know whether the
account was rendered and the bill paid.
Immediately after this incident in the graveyard, the Archdeacon
sent Mr. Barclay a letter in which he said that, as the Governor-in-
Council had granted to St. Andrews Church land for use as a burial
ground along with the site of the church, all further burials of
Presbyterians in the episcopal burying grounds would be refused.
Mr. Barclay replied on April 13 that he must insist upon his right
A Clash In St. Paul's Churchyard 41
\to be admitted to the Episcopal Burying Ground for any member of
his congregation. He went on, "If government shall decide that the
grounds shall be vested in Trustees for the use henceforth of the
Episcopal Church exclusively, I will set the example of submission
to its decision. But in the present state of the question, those who
may use force to prevent my congregation from getting admittance
to bury their dead according to the rules of their church must be
responsible for all evil that may result from it. I much regret that
such unpleasant competition should have arisen, but I may not shrink
from that duty which has devolved upon me in my official capacity".
On April 9, the day following the clash in the churchyard, there
was a special meeting of the St. George's Vestry. This meeting
appears to have been arranged earlier to discuss matters concerning
the building of the new church, the corner stone of which was laid
on June 25. Although there was no reference in the minutes of this
meeting on April 9 to the fracas which had taken place the day
before, it appointed a committee to investigate the affairs. During
the following week that committee took statements from witnesses;
and it reported back to another special meeting of the Vestry on
, April 16. Testimony had been taken to support St George's claim
to control the graveyard. There were statements by old inhabitants ;
there were the records of the collection of fees by the Sexton ; and
there was the expense which the church had borne for maintenance.
The Committee also took statements from witnesses of the clash in
the Churchyard. These, however, consisted only of the not unbiassed
testimony of the Rector and the Sexton. No evidence was obtained
from any of the mourners, Episcopalian and otherwise, who had
attended the funeral.
In its report the committee congratulated Stuart on his dignified
and calm bearing "when any appearance of anger on his part, or any
command to desist issuing from his mouth, would have been the
signal for the commencement of tumult or confusion". One is left
to wonder whether the Archdeacon really did succeed in reading the
funeral service at his usual speed in such dramatic circumstances.
The committee pointed out that there was very little space in the
Lower Burial Ground which was not already reserved for those who
had friends and relatives interred there. If St. Andrews were to
make good its claim to ecpial privileges, other dissenters would claim
equal rights also, and "the control of our minister may be set aside
and the feelings of families be distressed by and interference with
the remains of their departed relations". As for the Upper Burial
Ground, after what had been allocated had been divided with the
Roman Catholics, what was left would be too small if all Protestants
in Kingston were to have the right to be interred there. The Vestry
therefore determined to petition the government in Toronto for
patents for the control of both episcopal burying grounds, upper and
4_> A Clash [n St. Paul's Churchyard
I lis Excellency the Lieutenant Governor referred the matter to
the Executive Council, but gave temporary control to the Rector of
St. George's with the condition that members of other churches
-In mid have the right to be interred "as heretofore" until a decision
was reached. The Executive Council seems to have thought that
the problem was too big for them to deal with, perhaps it was part
of the much larger, and very inflammable question of the clergy
reserves. There was actually some suggestion that the matter of the
Kingston burying ground was to be referred to His Majesty's govern-
ment in ( ireat Britain- When the Minister of St. Andrew's heard
this, he wrote at once to the Lieutenant Governor to ask what he
was to do with the "mortal remains of the deceased members of
(my ) church until the pleasure of His Majesty's government . . . shall
be made known from Great Britain". No doubt he was the more
anxious since it was now early summer. He argued that the majority
of the Protestants in Kingston were being excluded from the grave-
yards by the minority and asked "Must the other, and by far the
larger party, be at the serious expense of purchasing land at a very
high rate . . . until an answer shall come from Great Britain? Or
may we each be advised without collision to inter their own dead in
these grounds under a protest from the other partv that nothing thus
done in the meantime shall be construed into a decision of right on
their part?" This sarcastic and somewhat ungrammatical but yet
reasonable letter was apparently followed up shortly by one that
was more realistic, namely a renewed petition for the grant of a
burial ground for St. Andrews church.
At last the authorities in Toronto were induced to act. Between
May 7 and May 14 a piece of land adjacent to the L T pper Burying
Ground was surveyed and granted to the Presbyterians. Hencefor-
ward the three distinct parts of that cemetery were known as the
English. Scottish, and Irish cemeteries.
A word or two may be appropriate at this point about the
further history of the cemeteries at Kingston. The cholera epidemic
of 1832 and the typhus plague in 1847 severely taxed the existing
accommodation in the graveyards. Indeed in the latter epidemic a
large common grave was used to inter the remains of the miserable
wretches who had brought the plague with them when they sought
in the New World relief from their distress in the Old. This place
is marked by a monument at the West end of the General Hospital-
Between 1845 and 1847 St. Paul's church was built in the Lower
Episcopal Burying Ground. If the graves then covered were marked
in any way or if the bodies were removed elsewhere, the details have
long been forgotten. A disastrous fire in 1854 which gutted St.
-'aul's church may have been responsible for destroying the memor-
ials. The Cataracpii Cemetery company was incorporated in 1850
and the present cemetery was opened. (A small Methodist or Quaker
A Clash In St. Paul's Churchyard 43
vard had already existed at Waterloo for half a century). When the
Upper Burying Ground was taken over for a park, the Catholics
bes"an to use the cemetery on Division street and moved some of
their dead from the old "Irish" cemetery to the new place.
In 1863 a city by-law prohibited further interments within the
city limits. It is of interest that one of the last persons to be buried
in St. Pauls churchyard and one of the last in the city itself, was
the Archdeacon Stuart who had fought so determined a fight to
retain control of the Lower Burying Grounds. He was buried in
the Stuart family enclosure which still exists. When Col. Long
wrote his history of St. Paul's Church the tombstones of the Arch-
deacon and his wife were still to be seen. But they are not there
now, and I can find no one who remembers anything about them.
A few points should be made about their unsavoury clashes in
St- Paul's churchyard which, in our eyes, seems to have been a
rather tragic profanation of the ceremonies connected with the bury-
I ing of the dead. It will be noted that it was the result of interde-
nominational rivalry and embittered by the dispute about the clergy
reserves. However, this picture of religious rivalry must be qualified
by reference to some examples of a more christian harmony. As we
have seen, in the early years of settlement all worshipped together.
The first Church of St. George was lent to the Catholics for worship
.before they built their own church. The English Methodists received
subscriptions for the building of their first chapel from Episcoplians,
including the Archdeacon himself, and also from an anonymous giver
Ivhey referred to as a "papist". In 1828 an Act of the legislative made
it legal for churches of various denominations to hold land through
trustees. In 1831 the ministers of various other dissenting churches
were allowed to perform the marriage service. In 1832 grants were
made to Methodists and Free Church Presbyterians out of the clergy
reserves. In 1845 the total amount distributed in Canada west was
divided in this proportion: Church of England £8728.17.8; Presby-
terians £7363.7.10 and Wesleyans £1666.13.2 In 1854, however, the
policy of secularization, which some of the reformers had begun to
It is clear that the collisions in the Kingston cemetery cannot be
attributed merely to the unyielding temperament and intolerant out-
look of Archdeacon Stuart even though I myself believe that he was
a less broadminded and human man than his father. But he had a
good case for the retention of the graveyard by the Church of St.
George. It seems likely that the Presbyterians deliberately chose to
try to force their way into the Lower Burying Ground in order to
be provocative. That cemetery was then nearly full, it could be
locked against them, the title of the Episcopalians to it was hallowed
by time if not by written deed, and thev had spent large sums on its
44 A Clash In St. Paul's Churchyard
maintenance. The Presbyterians probably tried to force the issue
of the Lower burial ground because that would bring on a head-on
collision and force the question to an issue more quickly than a
dispute about the Upper ground. On the other hand, it is also true
that they had better grounds for advancing their claims in the Lower
ground since, as in other U.E.L. burying grounds, precedents existed
for common use of the cemetery. And as the upper burial ground
had been recently granted in response to a particular petition by a
special group, they had a poor case to claim rights on it
On behalf of Mr. Barclay, it must be said that several of his
ietters seem to suggest that he was being pushed from behind and
that he felt it necessary to assert the rights of his church in order to
justify himself in the eyes of his new flock. It is noticeable that
Sheriff McLean turns up very frequently in the story. He appears
\o have been the real aggressor.
One last point remains. It would be interesting to know who
was the unfortunate whose funeral service was thus deliberately
desecrated-. Was it another of the large number of infants who
filled the churchyards in those days of high infant mortality? Or
was it some wretched pauper who, in his death, achieved a distinction
he had never possessed in life, a funeral that was attended by the
whole town. On that point the records are silent.
DOC U M ENTS
NOTE: It is the intention of the editor to include in Historic
Kingston, from time to time, documents which relate to the history
of the community.
KINGSTON MECHANICS' INSTITUTE
(From the British Whig, issue of Tuesday, March 11, 1834.)
On Friday evening a numerous and most highly respectable body
of mechanics, interspersed with some few of the inhabitants of
Kingston, assembled at McKay Tavern, to discuss the propriety of
forming a Mechanics Institute. Some of the leading and old
Mechanics of the town were not present, their absence being occasion-
ed it is presumed from pique, in not being consulted previous to the
calling of the meeting. The staying away was unkind ; they should
have recollected that it is now three years since a Mechanics Institute
has been in full operation at York, during which time, ample
opportunity has been afforded them to establish a similar institution
in Kingston, and if they have not thought proper so to do, they
should not blame their younger tradesmen if they step forward to
do that, which more properly belonged to them. Another cause why
they were not consulted is, that neither of the two originators of the
meeting, Mr. D. Urquhart or Mr. C. Sewell, has much personal
acquaintance among his fellow tradesmen, or we make no doubt, that
every concession would have been made to the opinions and wishes
of the elder tradesmen. As it is, we trust that petty jealousies of
any kind will be avoided and that the whole corps of mechanicals
will muster strongly at the Court House on Friday evening next to
receive the report of the Constitutional Committee and to elect the
office bearers of the Infant Society.
At a general meeting of the Mechanics and others friendly to
the forming of a Mechanics Literary Institute, held pursuant to
public notice, in McKay's Tavern. Kingston on Friday evening, the
7th of March, 1834, Mr. Charles Sewell was elected chairman and
William Lesslie, secretary. The Chairman having explained the
object of the meeting, it was —
I. Proposed by Mr. James Bryant, seconded by Mr. Cone; —
That it is expedient to establish a Scientific and Literary
Society to be called the Kingston Mechanics Institution-
II. Proposed by Mr. D. Williamson, seconded by Mr. S. Harrison; —
That a committee of twelve persons be nominated to draft a
set of regulations for the government of said institution and
that they report thereon to the adjourned meeting.
III. Proposed by Mr. John McLeod, seconded by Mr. Cone; —
That the said committee be instructed to inquire for an eligible
room or place of meeting for the Institution and that they have
power to receive names of persons wishing to become members
and generally to do such other work as they may judge neces-
sary for the welfare of the Institution.
[V. The meeting elected the Committee of Twelve of the following
persons; — Messrs. A. J. Fern, D. Urquhart, Francis M. Hill,
Dr. Barker, William Lesslie, John Cullen, Charles Sewell, John
Spence, John McLeod, Thomas Smith, John Butterworth and
V. Proposed by Dr. Barker, seconded by Mr. Stewart; -
That this meeting do now adjourn till next Friday evening at
the Court House at half past six o'clock to receive the report
of the Committee.
VI. Mr. John McLeod having taken the chair, the thanks of the
meeting was given by acclamation to Mr. Sewell for his able
conduct as Chairman.
THE KINGSTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY
(From the Minute Book of the Society)
Kingston, 27th Oct. 1893
A preliminary meeting of a few citizens interested in the
formation of an Historical Society at the City of Kingston was held
in the Senate Room, Queen's University, on Friday 27th Oct. 1893.
Present. Very Rev. Dr. G. M- Grant, Very Rev. B. B. Smith; Rev.
Dr. T. Griffith; R. M. Horsey, Esq., R. V. Rogers, Esq., G. M.
Machar. Esq., Surgeon-Major Neilson ; A. Shaw, Esq., Professors
G- Ferguson and A. Shortt ; Rev. Canon Spencer.
Very Rev. B. B. Smith was appointed chairman and R. V.
Rogers, Esq., Secretary.
R. M. Horsey, Esq., submitted reasons why the Society should
be formed when it was resolved to call a meeting of the citizens for
Friday 10th November to be held in the City Council Chamber to
take action as to the advisability of forming an Historical Society.
R. M. Horsey was requested to prepare a paper for such meeting
on the nature and requirements of such a society for this district.
Professor G. Ferguson was also requested to prepare a paper on
the early historical features clustering around this district.
Kingston, 10th Nov. 1893
A meeting: of citizens favourable to the formation of an Histori-
cal Society for this district was held in the Council Chamber City of
Kingston, Friday, 10th November, 1893- Present - ■ Rev. Canon A.
Spencer, Chairman ; and A. Shaw, Secretary ; Messrs. Dr. R. T.
Walkem; Dr. Neilson; R. Meek; A. McNeil; Dr. Herald; Prof. G.
Ferguson; Prof. A. Shortt ; H. Bawden ; Wm. Powers; Col. Cotton;
Aery Rev- B. B. Smith; R. M. Horsey; R. S. Dobbs ; J. McArthur;
R. V. Rogers ; W. S. Ellis ; J. George ; R. K. Row ; Rev. S. Houston ;
D. Gibson ; Jas. Cockrane ; Ettinger ; T. G. Shanks and others.
Prof. G. Ferguson gave an address on the early colonization of
Canada and events surrounding the City and district, referred to
Frontenac, La Salle and many other distinguished parties who
occupied important trusts during the early days of this district-
Mr. R. M. Horsey addressed the meeting on reasons why such
a society should be formed dwelling more on its later history with
the places of honour held in the country by Kingston's illustrious
Dr. R. T. Walkem referred to the formation of the society so
that documents might be preserved which otherwise might be lost
and which materially bear upon the history of our country — after
which it was moved by Dr. R. T. Walkem, seconded by Mr. R. M.
Horsey that an Historical Society be formed at this City — Carried.
Moved by Dr. Herald, seconded by A. Shaw that the following
gentlemen be a committee to draft a constitution and report on Friday
evening 24th inst in this Council Chamber at a meeting to be called
by advertisement for that purpose — carried. Dr. R. T. W r alkem ;
Dr. Neilson; R. M. Horsey; R. V. Rogers; Dr. Herald; Very Rev.
B. B. Smith; Wm. Powers; Prof. G. G- Ferguson and Prof. A. Shortt.
(NOTE: A meeting was held in the Council Chamber on 4th November, 1893.
and a constitution was adopted on the motion of Prof. A. Shortt. The following
officers were then elected: President, Very Rev. B. B. Smith; 1st Vice President,
Hon. M. Sullivan; 2nd Vice President, Rev. S. Houston; Corresponding Secretary,
Prof. A. Shortt ; Recording Secretary and Treasurer, A. Shaw ; Members of
Council, R. T. Walkem; Surgeon-Majur Neilson; Rev. Canon A. Spencer; Prof.
G. Ferguson and R. M. Horsey. The minutes then continued — )
Moved by Surgeon-Major Neilson, seconded by Prof. G. Fer-
guson, supported by Dr. R. T. Walkem and Prof. A. Shortt and
resolved, That the Historical Society of Kingston has learned with
sentiments of very deep regret of the death of Francis Parkman
whose magic pen and indomitable industry produced a series of most
fascinating volumes depicting the early history of our country. That
the sympathy of this Society be tendered to the family of this great
historian and sincere friend of Canada- And that a copy of this
resolution be communicated to the family of the deceased.
Moved by R. M. Horsey, seconded by Rev. Canon A. Spencer,
that Prof. A. Shortt be recmested to read the first paper for the
society at the regular meeting in January, 1894. Carried. Prof.
Shortt consented to deliver an address at the time mentioned, subject
"Condition of Europe in last half of sixteenth century during the
discovery of Canada."
Moved by Dr. R. T. Walkem, seconded by Mr. R. M- Horsey
that the next meeting of the society be held in the Council Chamber.
All present being eligible for membership the following gentle-
men registered their names and paid their fees and became members
of the Kingston Historical Society, viz. Mr. R. M. Horsey; Surgeon-
Major Neilson ; Rev. Canon A. Spencer; Neil McNeil; Prof. G. Fer-
guson ; Prof. A- Shortt ; James McArthur ; Wm. Powers ; W. G.
Ellis; Very Rev. Dean Smith; Mr. Wm. Neish.
Membership fees received $11.00.
No other business being before the society, it was declared
Buxton B. Smith A. Shaw-
JOHN BALMER IN KINGSTON
(From John Balmcr's manuscript autobiography. Reproduced by per-
mission of his granddaughter, Mrs. O. O. IVorden, and Mr. H. P.
Gundy. Librarian. Queen's University).
NOTE: John Balmer was born in Hillsborough, County Down, Ireland, March
8th, 1819. After enlisting in the British Army in 1839, he served in the Mediterranean
area. Greece, Corfu and Gibraltar. In 1845 he was transferred to Jamaica and in 1848
to Halifax. Nova Scotia. In April, 1850, Balmer volunteered for the Royal
Canadian Rifles. He then moved to St. John's, Canada East, where he married
Margaret Ann Carey in July, 1851. Their first son, William John, was born here
in 1852. In 1853 Balmer was transferred to Kingston, Canada West. He described
his life here as follows : —
"In the summer of 1853 we moved from St. John's here to the
'Lime Stone City'. On September 2nd of this year, our second son,
Robert Henry, was born in Fort Henry."
"On June 7th, 1855, our third son was born. We intended to
call him Francis Stewart; but before he was christen* 1 his brother
William John, died, so he got his deceased brother's name 'William
"He was baptized a few months after by the celebrated Reverend
Dr. Douglas. Robert H. was baptized by Reverend Father Dowse.
1 must not forget that in '54 we were visited at Kingston with a
severe grip of Cholera (Asiatic). A large number died. They were
attacked with cramps and black vomit ! Each man sick had two men
rubbing him to help ease the cramps. When one died he was
ordered by the Doctor immediately to be buried ; if married his wife
was not allow d to see him. 1 knew several married men who went
on guard duty in the morning in good health and took sick, died and
were buried — the wives never seeing them! How sad! When the
disease was kill' 1 by strong medicine the man too was all but kill d .
The patients had to be kept from sleeping for some time lest if
allowed to fall asleep they might never awake. I took sick myself
and knowing what was the matter I walked straight to the Hosp 1 and
was put to bed. The Doctor sent me a close by the steward who said
'Take this it will cure or kill you !' I drank it and within an hour
I felt it warm me from head to feet and in another hour I was well,
got up and was allow d to go home all right. I had neither cramps
nor 'Black Vomit'. I was not afraid. Fear helps to make people
"In 1856 I was appointed commander of a Boat Party at Cedar
Island, a very short distance from Fort Henry. Our duty was to
arrest any soldier attempting to desert- Katie was born on this
Island, 6th Jan-\ 1857. This was a very mild winter. The duty of
the Boat party at night was to "patrol" over the ice on the Bay, but
one night we were near patroling under the ice - it broke letting
some of the men in the water. They scrambl d out on the ice again
and I took them home and bidding farewell to ice patrol for the
remainder of the winter, we walked about on Terra Firma. I had a
good time nursing my new-born and only daughter, Katie. She was
baptized by Reverend Dr. Douglas. Her voice was not so musical
then as it is now. I don't mean to say she was cross, not at all.
She was a sweet, good child."
"One night during the summer of '56 a great sight appeared on
the Lake south of the Island. It was a steamer on fire! coming with
the current, burning to the water's edge and grounded on the south
end of the Island. The Capt" and crew all had taken to the Boats
and escaped, no lives lost. The owners or insurance agents appeared
soon and took away all that was worth taking."
"I forgot to mention a great and glorious time we had here in
Kingston celebrating the 'Fall of Sebastopol' in 1855, shortly after
William John's birth. The city was illuminated! and a Splendid
display of Fire Works at night. A complete uproar of joy took hold
if all classes of the community- The Brigade Major eall d 'Town
Major', gave the 'Time' (with the cock d hat in hand) for the cheering!
He was about the size and shape of Aid. Baxter. He swung round
the cock' 1 hat and Hip! Hip! Hip! Horrah peeled forth, followed by
the whole City! The Major shouted come! Let them hear you at
Cape Vincent! Hip! Hip! Hip! Horrah!
"Iu all military rejoicing there is another side to the Question.
There were many lives lost and many sad widows and orphans made
to mourn the loss of Husband and Father! Our own joy was not
unmixed with sorrow at the then apparent loss of our dear first born
Son. He was not for God took him."
"We had had William John for a walk on a beautiful afternoon.
He took suddenly ill and had to be got home. He was sick at the
stomach and brain affected. Doctor said it was 'Sun Stroke' and
ordered his beautiful hair to be cut. His mother would not disfigure
his beautiful curls- He kept raving in mind and finally fell into
'convulsions' and was insensible two or three days with frequent
fits and finally pass' 1 away (home) with little suffering."
"At this time the Grand Trunk Ry- along as far west as Kingston
and on towards Toronto and Hamilton was being built. There was
great business on the Lakes before the Grand Trunk and other
Railways came in use."
NOTE: In 1857 there was a call for volunteers for Fort Garry and Balmer made
the journey to the west, where he remained until 1861 when he returned to St.
John's, Canada East. In 1864, his time having expired, Balmer took his discharge
and went to Hamilton, moving in 1870 to Toronto where he was appointed superin-
tendent of the "Toronto Necropolis". He died in Oshawa.
KINGSTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Air Commodore D. A. R. Bradshaw, DFC, CD, ADC
W. J. Henderson, Esq., M.P.
Dr. W. A. Mackintosh, C.M.C.
Hon. W. M. Nickle., M.P.P.
Mayor C. C. Wright
Lt.-Col. Courtlandt M. Strange
Lt.-Col.. H. E. Pense
Ronald Way, Esq.
Dr. R. A. Preston
Dr. George F. C. Stanley
Mrs. W. C. Simmons
Mrs. Wm. Angus
Miss Mary Chambers
H. P. Gundy. Esq.
Lt.-Col. S. M. Poison
V. Ready, Esq.
Bogart W. Trumpour, Esq.
(Membership $1.00 — includes subscription to Historic Kingston
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